Powell and Fed Governor Lael Brainard hosted a virtual "Fed Listens" event to take stock of the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
President of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, Pat Dujakovich, said "the biggest worry for me is that some of the most vulnerable will lose hope. Hope is another very important intangible that has an impact on the economy."
Also during the event Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, Juan Salgado, warned, "never again to have double digit unemployment in one community in the same city where you have single digit employment."
Unemployment payments jumped to at least $16.2 billion in April, up more than five-fold from February, as layoffs attributed to the coronavirus pandemic swept through the economy.
The figure is still preliminary, with April payment data for six states including Florida and Michigan still not available on a Department of Labor Web site that provides detailed unemployment insurance information from the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
But the filings available so far show the scale of the payments moving through the economy and the magnitude of the hit to state unemployment trust funds that must be resolved.
The U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday another 2.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, bringing total filings since mid-March to nearly 39 million.