WASHINGTON — President Trump took a victory lap over new numbers showing the economy bounced back in June, even as a surge in new coronavirus cases is forcing states’ governors to reconsider their push to reopen their economies.
Trump held a surprise White House press conference Thursday morning, taking the podium just over an hour after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data showing that the economy added 4.8 million jobs in June and the unemployment rate dropped to 11.1%, numbers that outpaced economists’ expectations.
“I’d like to just announce the spectacular news,” Trump bragged. “Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back, it’s coming back extremely strong. We have some areas where we’re putting out the flames or the fires [of coronavirus], and that’s working out well.”
Trump took credit for the economic bounceback.
“This is not just luck that’s happening,” he said, praising his team. “This is a lot of talent.”
But the rush to reopen the economy in many states has coincided with a major spike in new coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported more than 50,000 new cases for the first time. The United States now leads the world in coronavirus cases, and governors in a number of states that had rushed to reopen are now moving to slow down or reverse their reopening plans.
“Today’s jobs report may just be a slight peak in a much larger valley,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday morning, warning that “the pain America is experiencing will only worsen” if Congress doesn’t pass a substantial coronavirus relief package before the end of July.
America’s ongoing struggle to cope with the coronavirus pandemic has caused Trump’s poll numbers to sink, and he’s currently trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by around 10 points nationally in a number of recent polls. But he said that the economy will continue to improve — while suggesting that third-quarter economic numbers will boost his reelection prospects.
“The good thing is the numbers will be coming out just prior to the election, so the people will be able to see those numbers,” Trump said. “These are historic numbers in a time where a lot of people would have wilted. But we didn’t wilt.”
While the White House billed the event as a press conference, Trump didn’t take questions from reporters, handing the podium over to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow for questions.
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the briefing room at the White House on July 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)