SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Some good news for the country’s economy today...the U.S. unemployment rate fell to just over 13 percent in May which is much lower than predicted.

Some say the data shows the nation is recovering faster than expected from the coronavirus lock-down.

The unemployment rate for May released today is not as high as economists predicted. Western Mass News spoke with Congressman Richard Neal earlier today about what this means to for the future.

"We accept good news when we get it, but understand that there’s an awful lot of anguish in the American family," Neal said.

Some surprising news to some economists Friday morning who were predicting the may unemployment rate would reach near 20 percent - a higher rate than during the Great Depression.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent for May, down from 14.7 percent in April.

According to the bureau of labor statistics - the economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May - the largest monthly gain in new jobs since the department started tracking data back in 1939.

"While the unemployment rate did dip...that doesn’t take into consideration those that are still looking for work," Neal explained.

Neal told Western Mass News the current state of the economy is attributed to the CARES Act.

"I think the events as they played out by Congress in terms of acting swiftly, I think, that’s medicated some of the pain, but the most important features to remind ourselves of from the CARES Act was unemployment insurance," he said. "It’s served as wage replacement to allow people to pay their rent, make their mortgage payments, and other needs in terms of sustenance every day," Neal explained.

The surprise decline, combined with the surge in jobs, leads some economists to believe the worst is over for the economy, but Neal said other statistics are a factor.

"While the unemployment number is down that’s not always the best snapshot. Unemployment claims are a better indication of where things are," Neal noted.

He told us negotiations and conversations have begun into the HEROES Act which is a $3 trillion relief package passed by the House, waiting on a vote by the Senate.

"I think it’s important to remember in the next round we will continue on this road that we call stability and then we will proceed to recovery," he said." So I hope to have something to say next week about the next package of recovery as we proceed through the HEROES Act," Neal explained.

Coming up later on Western Mass News at 6 p.m. on ABC40, we hear from local business owners who are hiring back staff to get ready for phase two reopening likely happening next week.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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