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Press Release

Cleveland Fed research estimates unemployment rate will likely peak below 20 percent amid the pandemic

After experiencing the longest expansion in history, the US labor market is going through tremendous stress due to the COVID-19 outbreaks across the country and the resulting mitigation efforts. In this Economic Commentary, Cleveland Fed research estimates that the unemployment rate will likely peak in May at about 16 percent and will come down rather swiftly over the last two quarters of this year, provided that the labor market is at least partially functional. An additional month of drastic mitigation efforts could add another 1 percentage point to the peak unemployment rate and push it to June.

“Most importantly, we think the shock is temporary,” say the researchers. “Unlike in past recessions, we know the underlying reason for the contraction in economic activity, and because the shutdowns are coordinated by federal and state governments, they could be reversed gradually once the public health emergency passes.”

Read more: The Unemployment Cost of COVID-19: How High and How Long?

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that along with the Board of Governors in Washington DC comprise the Federal Reserve System. Part of the US central bank, the Cleveland Fed participates in the formulation of our nation’s monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and to the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations System-wide. In addition, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across the Fourth Federal Reserve District through a wide array of research, outreach, and educational activities.

The Cleveland Fed, with branches in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, serves an area that comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Media contact

Doug Campbell,, 513.218.1892