Friday’s April jobs report is anticipated to be one of the worst ever, and show a spike in the unemployment rate to record highs as the US economy grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said he thinks that the report is likely to understate economic pain, he told Savannah Guthrie in a Thursday morning interview on the Today Show.

“I think the real number is probably around 23% or 24%,” Kashkari said. “It’s devastating.”

Kashkari said that he expects the report’s headline unemployment rate to be 16% or 17%, made lower by the number of Americans who have been laid off but are not actively looking for jobs right now, meaning they aren’t factored into the rate. 

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Kashkari ‘s projection would rival estimates of a nearly 25% unemployment rate from the depths of the Great Depression. Still, Kashkari said that he doesn’t think the US is bound to repeat what happened during that catastrophic economic downturn. 

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“I’m hopeful we can bounce back,” Kashkari said. “I’m optimistic, I don’t think we’re actually headed for another Great Depression.” 

That’s because the policy makers in the 1930s did the wrong thing, according to Kashkari, which made the situation worse. Now, however, US policymakers have been aggressive in their support for the economy. 

Congress has taken bold action to support American workers, and the Federal Reserve is acting very aggressively as well, going beyond its 2008 playbook. The Fed has also pledged to continue to act aggressively. 

“I think it’s becoming clear that we are in for a long, gradual recovery, which is unfortunate,” Kashkari said. “But I think we’re going to avert the depression scenario because policymakers are going to continue to be aggressive to fight that outcome.”

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