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Trump says 20% unemployment would be 'absolute worst case'
[WASHINGTON] US President Donald Trump downplayed warnings that the US unemployment rate could spike to 20 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying on Tuesday the economy is "nowhere near" that point.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly warned Republican senators the jobless rate could reach 20 per cent without a massive government stimulus programme, which would be more than double the peak hit during the 2008 economic downturn.
Mr Trump said he did not agree with the estimate.
"That's an absolute total worst-case scenario," he told reporters at the White House. "We're nowhere near it."
As his administration presses for rapid approval by Congress of a US$1.3 trillion emergency spending package to ease the economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Trump said he ordered the suspension of evictions and mortgage foreclosures for six weeks.
At a White House briefing, Mr Trump said the Department of Housing and Urban Development "is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April."
No details on the announcement were immediately available.