President Donald Trump on Friday celebrated a stunning U.S. employment report that showed the country gained more than 2.5 million jobs last month during the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, and predicted the battered economy will have recovered by 2021.
"We're bringing our jobs back," Trump said at a news conference at the White House. "I think we're actually going to be back higher next year."
Trump, who had counted on a strong economy to bolster his chances of re-election in November, said the recovery could be hampered by higher taxes and implementation of a Green New Deal climate change plan if Democrats win the White House.
He spoke after the Labor Department released its jobs report for May, which showed the jobless rate dropped to 13.3% from 14.7% in April. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 2.509 million jobs after a record plunge of 20.687 million in April.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the unemployment rate last month would come close to 20% after millions of laid-off workers filed for jobless benefits.
Trump has struggled to respond to the fallout from the outbreak of novel coronavirus, which led to nationwide lockdowns that put the economy into a virtual standstill and left about 40 million Americans without work.
Since mid-April, Trump has pressed state and local authorities to lift the business restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 108,000 Americans and sickened more than 1.88 million since February.
Trump also is dealing with mass protests across the country over the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, in police custody in Minneapolis last week. Floyd's death has reignited simmering racial tensions in the country.
A raft of public polls showed Trump trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden nationally and in some of the battleground states where the Nov. 3 election will be decided.