Cleaning & Restoration Breaking News

Snow Says Jobless Rate Has Not Yet Peaked

June 17, 2003
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Tuesday the U.S. unemployment rate is "unacceptably high" and may rise further before improving later this year.

Speaking at a conference sponsored by Money magazine, Snow said an expected pickup in economic growth in the second half should soften current high rates of joblessness.

"Unemployment is unacceptably high at 6.1 percent (in May) but it could well rise to 6.2 or 6.3 percent before the higher growth rates begin to bring it down," Snow cautioned.

In prepared remarks, Snow said recovery prospects "are looking better and better," then answering questions, he played down worries about the lofty U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world.

"The current account deficit is something to be monitored for sure but nothing to be alarmed about," Snow said. The current account is the broadest measure of U.S. trade because it includes both goods and flows of capital.

He acknowledged that finance ministers from other nations have raised the U.S. trade deficit -- now approaching 5 percent of the value of total gross domestic product -- as a worry but said he has a ready response.

When asked about it, Snow said, "I suggest to them how much less do you want to sell to us," since a higher U.S. deficit reflects the fact that other nations are exporting heavily into the U.S. market.

He repeated that, in the wake of reported irregularities in accounting at Freddie Mac (FRE.N), the No. 2 U.S. mortgage finance provider, and the removal of several of its top officers, it appeared such government-sponsored enterprises needed tougher regulation.

"It's an issue that needs to be looked at," Snow said. "We have been consistent in terms that the GSEs should be subject to greater transparency ... and oversight."

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