Fed Chairman: Outlook for economy is ”extraordinarily uncertain”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The head of our nation’s economy is warning that our financial future is uncertain as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin answered questions on Capitol Hill Tuesday about what still needs to be done to get millions of Americans back to work.

“The outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain,” Powell said. “The rise in new COVID-19 cases both here and abroad is concerning and could prove challenging in the next few months.”

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Powell testified that while the economy has improved since the pandemic first hit, growth has moderated in recent months.

“The high level of joblessness has been especially severe for lower wage workers in the service sector for women and for African Americans and Hispanics,” Powell said.

Mnuchin instead focused on the unexpected pace of economic recovery in his testimony.

“Americans are getting back to work,” Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin touted the promising October jobs report and blamed state and local lockdowns for the slowed growth.

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“Additional economic shutdowns, however, continue to impair this remarkable progress and cause great harm to American businesses and workers,” Mnuchin said.

Democrats criticized Mnuchin and the decision last month to end several federal emergency loan programs.

“Secretary Mnuchin, you’re leaving the country worse off than you found it,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Both parties blamed each other for Congress failing to pass another round of coronavirus relief.

A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a stimulus proposal Tuesday worth about $908 billion.

“It is time to find agreement on a targeted bipartisan basis to provide relief,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID).

“We need a big stimulus package,” said Brown.

Mnuchin testified there is still $455 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act that was passed in March and urged lawmakers to use the money for another round of relief aid.