Mnuchin: Record unemployment claims 'not relevant' given coronavirus stimulus package

Mnuchin: Record unemployment claims 'not relevant' given coronavirus stimulus package
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMurkowski pushes Mnuchin for oil company loans 17 things to know today about coronavirus The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation MORE said on Thursday the surge in unemployment claims reported this week was "not relevant" because of the relief coming from a government stimulus package just passed by the Senate.

“I just think these numbers right now are not relevant,” he said when asked about the initial jobless claims during a CNBC interview. "The good thing about this bill is, the president is protecting these people.”

The Labor Department released data on Thursday showing that initial jobless claims rose to 3.28 million the week of March 15-22, an elevenfold increase over the previous week, and nearly five times the highest level on record.

ADVERTISEMENT

The $2.2 trillion economic relief bill the Senate approved Wednesday night, which now heads to the House, included billions aimed at keeping workers on the books and a four-month expansion of unemployment benefits that also covers workers furloughed because of the coronavirus.

The package includes forgivable bridge loans to small businesses that keep their workers on the books, and includes a retroactive provision to encourage them to rehire and cover the wages of recently laid-off workers.

It also includes tax provisions subsidizing wages at larger companies affected by the pandemic.

Morgan Stanley projected that unemployment could rise to 12 percent in the second quarter of the year, 2 points above the highest level seen during the Great Recession.