By Paul Kiernan 

WASHINGTON -- Four-fifths of the increase in unemployment between February and May was likely temporary, the Trump administration estimated Thursday in a report that said relief spending significantly reduced the economic pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of unemployed Americans rose from 5.8 million in February to more than 23 million in April, as large swaths of the economy were shut down to slow the novel coronavirus' spread. The jobless rate was 10.2% in July, with 16.3 million people out of work.

The report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers said the Paycheck Protection Program, designed to keep workers attached to their jobs, helped avert a wave of small-business bankruptcies. As a result, 82% of the increase in joblessness is likely to be temporary rather than permanent, it said.

In addition, direct payments to households and enhanced unemployment benefits lifted the incomes of the lowest-earning workers, the CEA said.

The report comes as the Trump administration and Senate Republicans remain at an impasse with House Democrats over the amount of additional support for the economy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) traded barbs this week, accusing each other of refusing to compromise on legislation to make unemployment benefits more generous, keep people in their homes and shore up the finances of state and local governments.

Write to Paul Kiernan at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 13, 2020 12:29 ET (16:29 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.