Report: Mnuchin Told GOP Senators Coronavirus Could Drive Unemployment To 20%

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David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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CNN and other outlets are reporting that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Republican senators Tuesday that unemployment could hit 20% if they fail to act now with an aid package.

CNN host Jake Tapper tweeted, “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Republican senators Tuesday morning that the coronavirus pandemic could drive up US unemployment to 20%, a Republican Senate source told CNN’s @JDiamond1. (As first reported by Bloomberg News.)”

Mnuchin reportedly told the Republican senators that unemployment could skyrocket if no steps were taken now to alleviate the growing financial crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic. He was especially encouraging the lawmakers to pass an assistance package sponsored by the Trump administration, a source told CNBC. (RELATED: Trump Declares National Emergency As Coronavirus Outbreak Grows)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House on March 17, 2020 in washington,DC. - The coronavirus outbreak has transformed the US virtually overnight from a place of boundless consumerism to one suddenly constrained by nesting and social distancing.The crisis tests all retailers, leading to temporary store closures at companies like Apple and Nike, manic buying of food staples at supermarkets and big-box stores like Walmart even as many stores remain open for business -- albeit in a weirdly anemic consumer environment (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House on March 17, 2020 in Washington,DC. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Mnuchin wants Congressional approval on a $1 trillion stimulus bill that would provide Americans with emergency cash and assist embattled businesses.

According to CNBC, a Treasury official emphasized that Mnuchin was not necessarily predicting catastrophic unemployment but merely trying to underline the possibilities of what could happen to the U.S. economy if forces are left on their own. (RELATED: US Surgeon General Tells Media To Stop Sniping At Trump Over Coronavirus: ‘No More Bickering … Or Finger Pointing’)

“During the meeting with Senate Republicans today, Secretary Mnuchin used several mathematical examples for illustrative purposes, but he never implied this would be the case,” Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said in an emailed statement.

Bloomberg News first reported Mnuchin’s alleged comments.

During the depths of the Great Depression, in 1933, unemployment in the United States was 24.9%.