U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin is facing backlash over his recent reaction to the soaring jobless claims amid the coronavirus outbreak.
On Thursday, Mnunchin conducted a phone interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer and David Faber, where he referred to the unemployment rate as “not relevant.”
“We knew the jobless claims was not going to be a good one, but I am curious what your thoughts were when you saw that 3.283 million number this morning?” asked Faber.
Mnunchin responded with his opinion insisting the numbers — regardless of whether they’re “bigger” or “smaller” — are “not relevant.”
“To be honest with you, I just think these numbers right now are not relevant, whether they’re bigger or smaller in the short term,” Mnuchin said.
Mnunchin opted to turn the focus toward the $2 trillion stimulus package designed to cover unemployment payments for up to four months.
“Obviously, there are people who have jobless claims, and, again, the good thing about the bill is the president is protecting those people,” Mnuchin added.
See Mnunchin’s remarks below:
Shortly after the interview began circulating online, Mnuchin was met with criticism. Many have taken to Twitter to share their opinion of his remarks in comparison to the Trump administration’s previous focus when unemployment rates were low.
“Gee, low unemployment rates proved, for Trump and his people, that we had a ‘great economy,'” one user tweeted. “Now with very high rates, Trumpers say it’s not ‘relevant.’ How convenient for them!”
Gee, low unemployment rates proved, for Trump and his people, that we had a "great" economy.— Richard D. Wolff (@profwolff) March 26, 2020
Now with very high rates, Trumpers say it's not "relevant." How convenient for them!https://t.co/QKtWoE9Fhs
Check out some of the other tweets:
Mnuchin saying record jobless numbers "are not relevant" on CNBC next to a graphic of them spiking certainly makes for interesting optics pic.twitter.com/RsidgfBTK8— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 26, 2020
Mnuchin on 3.3 million people filing for unemployment: "I think these numbers right now aren’t relevant whether they’re bigger or shorter in the short term.”— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) March 26, 2020
As long as large corporations get their bailouts, it's apparently not "relevant" what happens to average Americans. https://t.co/RUuT9d44i4
Mnunchin’s interview follows reports about the surge in unemployment filings in the United States. About 3.3 million people filed for unemployment last week.
Unemployed workers have revealed they endured hours-long waits attempting to complete claims by phone. Multiple states’ websites also crashed due to the overwhelming number of claims being submitted at once.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were more than 76,000 positive coronavirus cases in the United States.