Treasury sounds the alarm: Unemployment could be 20% - highest since the Great Depression

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is having a very busy day. He privately just told a group of Republican senators on Capitol Hill that unemployment could reach 20% if they don't enact a trillion-dollar stimulus package he proposed.

He is warning them that as the coronavirus continues to spread, it will further suppress economic activity. Additionally, health advocates are saying that Americans might need to practice social distancing for as long as an entire year, and that the virus could re-populate if people start going outdoors.

The last time the United States saw unemployment over 20% was during the Great Depression. In modern history, it hasn't even touched 10%. To put this in more perspective, the 2008 financial crisis saw a peak of just 9.3% unemployment.

This is a far outcry from what he and President Trump have been saying in the early weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak.

One of the biggest ideas gaining steam on Tuesday is direct cash assistance to Americans. Mnuchin wants this to happen in as little as two weeks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on board with the idea as are Democrat and Republicans on both sides of the aisle. Just how much hasn't been decided yet, but Trump says "big," and "bigger than you think."

If Congress does act, and fast, it's possible they could keep unemployment from hitting 20%, but only time will tell.

Mnuchin says this is not the time to worry about the deficit.