UPDATE: May Unemployment Rate Actually Higher Due to ‘Misclassification Error’

The percent of unemployed Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic actually increased to 16.3% in May compared with 14.7% in April, according to a “misclassification error” the Bureau of Labor Statistics disclosed on June 5.

“BLS and Census Bureau are investigating why this misclassification error continues to occur and are taking additional steps to address the issue,” BLS said in its report, first disclosed by The Washington Post.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said the improved May un-employment numbers indicated the economy was back on track.

“Today’s report shows much higher job creation and lower unemployment than expected, reflecting that the re-opening of the economy in May was earlier, and more robust, than projected,” Scalia said in a statement.  “Millions of Americans are still out of work, and the Department remains focused on bringing Americans safely back to work and helping States deliver unemployment benefits to those who need them. However, it appears the worst of the coronavirus’s impact on the nation’s job markets is behind us.”

Meanwhile, recent statistics from Datex Property Solutions found that almost 50% of commercial properties did not pay rent in May.

“Social distancing means financial Armageddon for commerical real estate and municipalities in coming months,” fiscal analyst R. Christoper Whalen wrote on his blog.

The Congressional Budget Office projects COVID-19 will have a fiscal impact exceeding $8 trillion and expects the nation’s economy won’t fully recover until 2030. Indeed, with expanded unemployment benefits ($600 weekly) set to expire July 31, a surge in unpaid rent, mortgages, credit card bills and car payments could surge.

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“We’re not in a normal recession situation where [the] key priority is getting the unemployment rate down,” Damon Jones, economist at University of Chicago, told The Post. “We’re intentionally keeping the economy in a coma to try to treat it.”

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