Labor secretary: Unemployment rate could be under 10 percent by end of year

Labor secretary: Unemployment rate could be under 10 percent by end of year
© Greg Nash

Labor Secretary Eugene ScaliaEugene ScaliaBiden should keep the new commonsense independent contractor rule Demolition at the Labor Department, too AFL-CIO calls on Trump to resign or be removed from office 'at once' MORE expressed confidence that the unemployment rate could fall below 10 percent by the end of the year as businesses across the country start to reopen.

“I think that we can get under 10 percent by the end of the year, Stuart," Scalia told Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Thursday. "I really do believe that as hard as this has been for American workers and their families, it was always meant to be temporary. We had an extraordinarily strong economy.”

Businesses across the country have been shuttered and tens of millions of people sent into unemployment as the coronavirus pandemic continues. However, states have begun easing restrictions they’d put in place and allowed some institutions to begin reopening so long as they observe social distancing guidelines.


Over 42 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began, but initial unemployment claims have continued to decline since an April peak of 6.9 million.

“[I]t's been a large number of job losses,” said Scalia. “The number of people filing for claims has declined steadily over the last few weeks, and the continuing claims dropped significantly, by about 3.3 million, over the last couple of weeks. So, those are some good signs.

“I've been of the view, Stuart, [that] many of these jobs will come back quickly because they were still there," he added. "It was that because of public health measures we were keeping businesses from opening, workers returning, but they're going back now.”

Scalia expressed confidence that workers in large offices would be able to continue working remotely, but acknowledged that some industries, including the entertainment and airline industries, will likely face lingering repercussions from the coronavirus’s economic fallout. 

To help blunt the fiscal impact of the pandemic, Scalia said it is worth considering a plan circulating on Capitol Hill to provide a $450 per week bonus if one goes back to work.

“Well, the idea there is to incentivize people to return to work because of the substantial unemployment benefit that was made available, I think importantly made available under the CARES Act. We want that unemployment safety net available for people, but what we want first is work," he said. "Workers are better off being able to safely return to work than being on unemployment."