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Mnuchin says soaring jobless claims "not relevant" since help is on the way

Over 3 million U.S. workers file for unemployment
Over 3 million U.S. workers file for unemploy... 05:30

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday morning that the stunningly high number of new jobless claims, the largest single-week increase on record, is "not relevant." Mnuchin, whose net worth was roughly $400 million in 2019, according to Forbes, explained in a CNBC interview that financial help would be on the way to Americans soon and said he hoped many businesses would rehire those employees when the coronavirus outbreak ebbs. 

The Labor Department announced Thursday morning that the number of new jobless claims filed by people trying to obtain unemployment benefits rose to roughly 3.3 million, up from 281,000 last week. That's the highest single-week spike on record and far higher than the previous record of 695,000 claims filed one week  in October 1982. On Wednesday night, the Senate passed a massive coronavirus relief bill that will boost unemployment insurance and provide checks to every tax-filing American who earns less than $100,000. The House is expected to approve the package Friday. The measure will also provide loans to small businesses that essentially become grants, since they can be forgiven under certain conditions. 

"You know, to be honest with you, I think these numbers right now aren't relevant," Mnuchin said on CNBC. "You know, whether they're bigger or smaller in the short term. You know, obviously, there are people who have jobless claims. And the good thing about the bill is the president is protecting those people. So, now with these plans, small businesses hopefully will be able to hire back a lot of those people."

"Last week, they didn't know if they had protections. They didn't have any cash. They had no choice," Mnuchin continued. "Now, with this bill passed by Congress, there are protections. And as I said, hopefully, those workers will be rehired. But between these three programs, it protects all of American workers. And by the way, you know, lots of big companies do continue to hire, for obviously, grocery stores, pharmacies, you know, delivery services. These companies are on overtime. So, I know they're hiring people as fast as they can."

Mnuchin on Wednesday said the massive relief bill is expected to keep the economy afloat for roughly three months. And the treasury secretary said Americans with direct deposit information on file with the IRS should see those checks in the next few weeks. However, it is likely to take longer for Americans who don't have direct deposit with the IRS because those checks will be mailed.

"We are determined to get money in people's pockets immediately," Mnuchin said on CNBC. 

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