Trump takes credit for shock job gain, reasserting his 2020 case
President Donald Trump said he expects the U.S. economy to recover from the coronavirus outbreak even faster than predicted after Friday’s jobs report showed a surprise gain of millions of jobs – but he warned against electing Democrats in November.
“The only thing that can stop us is bad policy,” Trump said in triumphant remarks at the White House, setting aside a week of turmoil over his hostility toward nationwide protests against police brutality.
“Left-wing, bad policy of raising taxes and green new deals,” he said.
The country’s labor market unexpectedly bounced back in May, with nonfarm payrolls rising 2.5 million after falling 20.5 million in April in the largest drop on record. The jobless rate fell to 13.3% from 14.7%, defying economists’ expectations it would reach 19%. Trump said the numbers should encourage governors to release the brakes on lifting stay-at-home orders and other measures intended to slow the spread of the virus.
“I don’t know why they continue to lock down,” he said. “The ones that are most energetic about opening, they are doing tremendous business.”
The economic recovery, he said, “is far better than a V,” referring to a debate about whether the recovery from the economic collapse precipitated by the outbreak would be V-shaped or take longer. But he encouraged Congress to add to the trillions of dollars of economic stimulus it’s already passed, saying that “we’re set up to do more if we want; I think we should because we are dominant.”
The numbers signaled that the U.S. economy is recovering faster than expected from the damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Economists had predicted a decline of 7.5 million jobs in the unemployment rate to 19%. No one in Bloomberg’s survey had projected an improvement for either metric.
But even after the recovery in May, the country has still lost 18 million jobs since March, and states received another 1.88 million jobless claims last week.
Additionally, while overall unemployment improved in March, the rate for African Americans ticked up to 16.8%, the highest in a more than a decade. Latino faced unemployment of 17.6%.
And the president now faces a second crisis in the police brutality protests gripping cities nationwide.
The jobs numbers underscored the reasoning behind the White House’s refusal to issue a formal economic forecast this summer, a part of the budget process designed to judge whether the administration’s beginning-of-the-year projections are holding up. A person familiar with the matter said the unprecedented nature of the outbreak made a mid-year forecast impossible to issue.
The May jobs report could also roil the debate over the timing and scope of additional economic stimulus, with Democrats calling for more aid to reverse the downturn and Republicans taking a wait-and-see approach.
While the numbers signaled good news for Trump, who has fallen behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in polls in part due to the pandemic, the protests have created new headwinds for the president.
Demonstrations swept U.S. cities for a 10th consecutive night on Thursday over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody in Minneapolis. Trump has expressed sympathy over Floyd’s death but has focused on restoring “law and order” after protests in some cities turned violent and has not shown support for broad reforms of police behavior.
Video of a confrontation between Buffalo police and an elderly demonstrator went viral on Thursday. The man was seen lying on his back with blood pooling underneath his head after being shoved backward by a police officer.
And Trump continues to face criticism over his decision to stage a photo op holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, after federal officers forcibly cleared peaceful demonstrators from the surrounding area. After Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, aligned herself with scathing criticism of Trump’s approach to the protests from his former defense secretary, James Mattis, the president said Thursday he would campaign against her re-election in two years.