U.S. President Donald Trump at a press briefing on Thursday celebrated a government report showing the country gained 4.8 million jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 11.1 per cent last month, even as coronavirus cases surge across the country.
Trump took the victory lap as the coronavirus cases spike in states with large economies such as California, Texas and Florida, prompting local governments to once again shutter bars and other businesses where the deadly respiratory disease is thought to spread easily.
“Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back,” Trump said, rattling off different sectors that saw job gains according to the monthly report. “These are historic numbers.”
A separate report on Thursday said that 1.43 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits during the final week of June.
Despite the swelling loads of new cases, Trump said he expected to see good employment numbers in the coming months and that the third quarter gross domestic product report, due days before the November presidential election, would also be strong.
Thursday’s report, Trump said, “suggests that workers are confident about finding a new job.”
He added, though, that the White House and Congress continue to negotiate on another round of stimulus, frequently called “Phase 4,” to help the economy withstand a pandemic now in its fourth month.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took some questions from journalists after Trump left the press room without taking any.
Mnuchin was asked whether the administration regretted allowing states so open up so quickly and said that although the case numbers are up, he believes the government has found “the right balance.”
“Absolutely not. I think we’ve had a very careful plan working with the states – this is primarily the states responsibility. We can get people back to work safely,” he said.
“There is a safe way to reopen the economy and we’re going to do that.”
The U.S. on Thursday set a new record for daily infections, with more than 50,000 new cases in the span of one day, said a tally of cases maintained by Johns Hopkins University.