The jobless rate fell sharply during May -- but the Federal Reserve isn't expecting unemployment to return to normal levels anytime soon.
Fed officials anticipate the unemployment rate will drop to 9.3% during the fourth quarter, according to a summary of projections released Wednesday.
Although that would mark a major improvement from the current level of 13.3%, it's still nearly as high as the peak of 10% during the Great Recession.
"A full recovery is unlikely to occur until people are confident it's safe to engage in a broad range of activities," Fed chief Jerome Powell said during a press conference.
Even during the fourth quarter of 2021, the Fed expects unemployment to remain elevated at 6.5%. That's nearly twice as high as the Fed had projected in December, before the pandemic erupted.
By the end of 2022, the Fed expects the unemployment rate will fall to 5.5%. But that's still well above the 4.1% that the Fed considers "normal" over the longer run.
Still, Powell stressed that Fed officials see multiple paths ahead for the economy, meaning these projections should be taken with a grain of salt.