Trump Administration Asks States to Delay Release of Unemployment Numbers

The New York Times reports that President Donald Trump’s administration is asking state officials to delay the release of unemployment numbers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which sent a shockwave through the economy and forced many out of work after businesses shuttered.

The Department of Labor asked state officials in an email to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels (very high, large increase)” and place the exact unemployment numbers under embargo.

Gay Gilbert, the administrator of the department’s Office of Employment Insurance advised states to “not provide numerical values to the public.”

The Times noted there was no indication Gilbert was pressured to make her request.

281,000 Americans filed unemployment claims last week. Economists for Goldman Sachs predicted that 2.25 million Americans filed for unemployment this week.

The federal government has allowed states to expand their eligibility rules for unemployment as a result of the crisis.

“President Trump has made the safety, security, and health of the American people his top priority. The Administration is using all available tools to decrease the risk of coronavirus in the United States and to assist workers who may be affected,” stated Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia on March 12. “Under the guidance issued today, states have greater assurance about the circumstances in which they are authorized to extend unemployment insurance benefits to Americans whose employment has been disrupted by coronavirus.”

The White House has proposed an economic relief plan: a $1 trillion economic stimulus that would directly hand checks to Americans. Details of the plan are still being fleshed out.

“It is a big number. This is a very unique situation in this economy,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday. “The government has requested that parts of this economy shut down.”