President Trump declared Friday that jobs are coming back on the heels of a surprise labor report that may indicate the start of an economic recovery amid historic job losses, as he also upped his demands on states to lift lingering coronavirus-related lockdowns.
“We’re bringing our jobs back,” Trump said during upbeat remarks to members of the media in the Rose Garden. “We’re gonna be back there. I think we’re actually going to be back there higher next year than ever before.”
He added, in reference to predictions that the economy could eventually bounce back to where it was before the pandemic: “We’ve been talking about a ‘V.’ This is far better than a ‘V.’ This is a rocketship.”
Trump also signed a bill giving small businesses more flexibility with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. He said the legislation would “especially help restaurants, hotels and other businesses.” The president also thanked Democrats for cooperating on getting the PPP bill through the House of Representatives.
Numbers released by the Labor Department indicated that the economy added 2.5 million jobs in May and the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent a month earlier. This was a stark reversal from expectations that the unemployment rate could reach nearly 20 percent in May, and Trump took the opportunity to crow over the positive economic news.
“We’ll go back to having the greatest economy anywhere in the world, nothing close. And I think we’re going to have a very good upcoming few months. I think you’re going to have a very good August, very good July, but a spectacular, maybe spectacular September … and next year’s going to be one of the best years we’ve ever had economically,” Trump said, touting a “job surge.”
He compared the U.S. economy to a surgery patient who was strong before an operation and had a better chance of coming out of the procedure healthy.
“The reason it’s been and is so good, is because the body was strong,” he said. “Our body was so powerful that we could actually close our country.”
Trump further said that significant progress was being made on the development of coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics. Yet he also questioned why some states still have significant coronavirus lockdown measures in place, as he credited states lifting lockdowns like Florida and Georgia for the economic progress so far.
“This is what these numbers are all about … It’s extremely important to remember that many of our states are closed or almost closed. Some of the big ones, New York, New Jersey, they’ll start, they’re starting now to get open. I hope,” Trump said.
Trump also said that liberal economic policies like the “Green New Deal” are the biggest threat to the United States’ economic recovery.
The comments came after a flurry Friday morning tweets from the president, seizing on the unexpectedly good economic news.
“Really Big Jobs Report. Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!” Trump said in one tweet.
“THESE JOBS NUMBERS ARE INCREDIBLE!” he said in another.
“Oh no, the Dems are worried again. The only one that can kill this comeback is Sleepy Joe Biden!” Trump added, continuing the triumphant tweetstorm. “It’s a stunner by any stretch of the imagination.”
Last week 1.87 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, which represented the ninth straight weekly decline in such claims. Still, the total number of Americans filing for claims is staggering, with more than 40 million doing so since the crisis began.
Democrats suggested that Trump’s victory lap is premature.
“Thirteen percent unemployment number is not ‘joyous’ or ‘stupendous’ as President Trump has wrongly stated,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
“We are in the largest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. 21 million Americans are unemployed, and one-fifth of the American workforce has lost work or given up on trying to find a job. And Trump says he is joyous? Families are struggling, hospitals are overwhelmed, businesses have shut down for good, and Americans are dying every day—all of this was preventable,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.
U.S. employment numbers had tanked to some of the worst in history due to economic shutdowns imposed by states aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. States have begun lifting those restrictions in recent weeks, but the reversal in job trends still surprised most observers.
The numbers are still about triple what the unemployment numbers were just months ago, but represent significant progress in the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Fox Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.