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Steve Mnuchin: Unemployment Could Hit 20%

Steven Mnuchin

CNN is reporting [1]that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Republican senators on Tuesday that COVID-19 could drive U.S. unemployment to 20%. 

His comments come shortly after he asked Republication senators to act on a $1 trillion economic stimulus to avert this scenario. 

CNN’s report also said the Treasury Secretary was concerned the economic ramifications of COVID-19 could be worse than the Great Recession. 

According to The Balance, [2]unemployment peaked during the Great Recession in October 2009 at 10.2%. 

The rise of the coronavirus has caused both the Federal Reserve and the federal government has taken actions to combat the virus. On Sunday, the Fed cut interest rates to zero [3]on Sunday in an effort to bolster the U.S. economy as it combats the effects of the coronavirus.

The benchmark interest rate is now in a range of 0% to 0.25%, which is down from a range of 1% to 1.25%. The Fed also announced it is re-starting its "quantitative easing," as it did following the Great Recession to try and get money into the markets and the economy.

"The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals," said the Fed in a statement.  [4]

The Trump administration [5], on Friday, said they are considering a plan to allow homeowners whose income was impacted by COVID-19 to delay mortgage payments. 

The report adds a mechanism for borrowers to catch up has yet to be decided. Also, the government will have to determine how to advance money to servicers so investors in mortgage-backed securities get their guaranteed payments. 

Mnuchin said earlier Tuesday [6]that the government is "looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," during Tuesday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Tuesday.  [7]

Mnuchin added the goal would be to send checks to Americans in two weeks to help workers cope with the economic effects of COVID-19. Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney, as well as Democratic Sen. Tulsi Gabbard [8], have suggested $1,000 per adult.