Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said Monday that the current U.S. unemployment rate is likely lower than May's surprisingly improved number that was released last week.
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"Those numbers were about three to four weeks ago [when] the surveys were taken, so I think unemployment today is actually lower than was reported on Friday," Scalia told FOX Business' "Mornings with Maria."
The Labor Department reported a lower-than-expected 13.3 percent unemployment rate last week. However, the rate is likely higher due to a "misclassification error," as noted in the official report.
If the "error" had not occurred, the note said "the overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported," on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.
However, the number is still better than April's unemployment rate of 14.7 percent.
"Unemployment still is at an elevated level," Scalia said. "There may be some workers who were furloughed or maybe on the Paycheck Protection Program, who were listed as employed but importantly — this is key — we saw the same issue in April, too. That number came down significantly just like the other numbers came down."
An estimated 21 million Americans are out of work, with the leisure and hospitality sector being the hardest hit.
This story has been updated to note the correct April unemployment rate of 14.7 percent, not 19.7 percent as previously reported