Atlanta economist explains why US unemployment rate likely higher than 14.7 percent

The Labor Department reported Friday the US unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent last month, with more than 20 million people now out of work.

However, local Economist Tom Smith said he’s “sure that the unemployment numbers are higher than they are. "

Smith told us that’s because not everyone trying to file has been able to reach the department.

“I know that there are people who are waiting saying 'okay, I can't get in this week. I'm gonna have to get in next week' and then it happens again and it happens again,” he explained.

Once more people are able to reach the Department of Labor, Smith sayd the national unemployment rate could reach around 18 percent.

"It went from three and change to slightly over four. Now it has, you know, tripled or quadrupled up to like 15 percent. We're likely to see it maybe increase from 15% to 18%," he explained.

Nearly 1.6 million Georgians have filed unemployment claims.

"States are not prepared for the number of people who are filing unemployment claims,” Smith, who is also a professor at Emory University, detailed.

Many states are reopening.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says his efforts to "reopen" the state's economy are meant to offset the unemployment numbers.

Businesses have been back open for two weeks.

"People are going to be very hesitant to go out and spend their money. So, that means the recovery is going to be very, very, very slow until people are absolutely certain that their income is safe,” Smith explained.

Many of you have reached out to FOX 5 about unemployment concerns.

"People who've been furloughed are now going to get their jobs back, but I’m sure that there's other companies who decided we're going to have to cut our employees," Smith mentioned.

Click here for answers on questions regarding unemployment.