Thursday's unemployment report, while showing that just under 3 million more workers filed for unemployment, came in a "little better" than expected, and shows signs that "people are trying to grab the economy back, and it's working," White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said Thursday.
"Especially if you look at the state level details, where the states that are gradually starting to open, (they) are starting to at least stop the decline," Hassett told Fox Business' Stuart Varney. "So I think the way to think about it right now is that over the next few weeks, as we watch the claims data which is really the best indicator, that we are hoping to see that we are sort of entering the corner and getting ready to come out on the other side and hit the gas."
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 2.981 million for the week ending May 9, down from 3.176 million in the prior week.
"These claims came in below three million," said Hassett. "I think that that's a key marker. It suggests that the gradual opening up of the economy is beginning to slow the decline. What we have to do is turn that into an advance, but I think the claims data today was a positive sign, the turning on of the economy is starting to slow the descent."
Meanwhile, there will be many long-run changes, said Hassett.
The "gig economy" also is growing while more people are now working from home, and many will want to stay, said Hassett.
Varney pointed out that the FED does not see things the same way or expect a rapid recovery, but Hassett said he doesn't think that's true.
"At the White House, we agree with the Congressional Budget Office that we will have a very strong second half of the year, you know, the second quarter," he said. "By the time we get to the third quarter, the fourth quarter and next year, things are going to be a lot greater."
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