• U.S. Treasury Secretary says real unemployment "could be" 25%
  • The BLS estimates it was 22.8%, didn't include job losses post mid-April
  • Mnuchin says risk of permanent damage if economy not reopened

The real unemployment rate in the U.S. may be at 25% already, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

This figure exceeds the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) 22.8% estimate of the real unemployment rate in April and makes the current economic crisis equal to the Great Depression in terms of joblessness.

"Unlike the Great Depression where you had economic issues that led to this, we closed down the economy," Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday" when quizzed about the real numbers by anchor Chris Wallace. "You are correct, the reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better. That's why we're focused on rebuilding this economy."

The agency calculated over 20.5 million jobs were lost in the U.S. last month, sending the official unemployment rate surging from 4.4% in March to 14.7%. This survey did not include workers not looking for jobs recently, the underemployed and the 7 million jobs lost since April 18. Mnuchin's estimate accounts for these. 

He predicts a "better" third and fourth quarter and a "great" 2021 based upon rate of re-openings, testing and vaccine and drug hopes. He insisted his numbers aren't "rosy" and we will see a "bounce back" from a low stand point after a very bad second quarter. He also said there would be "permanent economic damage to the American public" if the U.S. economy is not reopened carefully now.

Neel Kashkari, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis president, told ABC News "the worst is yet to come on the job front." He said, "We may be in an environment of gradual relaxing and then having to clamp back down again around the country as the virus continues to spread. To solve the economy, we must solve the virus. Let's never lose sight of that fact." Kashkari previously forecast 18 months of rolling lockdowns