The New York Times is reporting that this week, the Trump administration’s Labor Department asked state officials to report new unemployment claims only in “generalities” to avoid spooking financial markets.
“States should not provide numeric values to the public,” Gay Gilbert, the administrator of the department’s Office of Employment Insurance, wrote in the email that was shared with the Times, which also revealed that the numbers are closely tracked by financial markets who are judging the strength of the U.S. economy.
Labor authorities were asked to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels (very high, large increase)” until the Labor Department releases the total number of national claims next Thursday.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin reportedly warned senators that unemployment during the pandemic could hit 20% without a financial rescue package. As expected, unemployment claims have seen a sharp increase in the wake of the Coronavirus layoffs and hour cuts. The massive amount of new claims nearly crashed the State of Georgia’s unemployment website.
Georgia abided by the email and did not release exact figures. State Labor Department spokeswoman Kersha Cartwright told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the state was not yet ready to reveal specific numbers, failing to mention the instruction of the memo.
“We are seeing as many claims filed in a day as we usually see in a week.” Cartwright further revealed.