US unemployment rate falls to 13.3%; upbeat Trump says precursor to better numbers

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jun 5 (PTI) The US unemployment rate fell to 13.3 per cent on Friday, registering an increase of 2.5 million jobs, leading President Donald Trump to describe the numbers as an affirmation of the good work his adminstration is doing.

The unemployment rate for April was 14.7 per cent, which was the highest since 1948. With the addition of 2.5 million jobs, the monthly rate dropped to 13.3 per cent for May.

At a short-notice press conference on Friday, Trump sounded upbeat, saying the latest jobs report was an incredible development. 'This is a very big day for our country. It's affirmation of all of the work we have been doing really for 3 1/2 years,' Trump told reporters in White House's the Rose Garden here. The economy had lost 22.1 million jobs in March and April when most parts of the US were under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In May, some businesses have reopened and rehiring of workers has picked up, the daily reported.

'The numbers are great and this leads us onto a long period of growth. We will have the greatest -- we will 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,” he said.

“I think you are going to have a very good August, a very good July but a spectacular -- maybe spectacular -- September. A spectacular October, November, December is going to be one of the best years we've ever had economically and if you look at the numbers they bear it out,' he said at the nearly one-hour-long press meet during which no questions were taken from the media.

“We were strong. It is sort of like when you are going for an operation and if a person is healthy. We were healthy. We had the greatest economy in the world, we went in for an operation we closed our country down. We saved possibly 2 million, 2.5 million lives,” he said.

“Now it could have been 1 million lives I don't think anything less than that. I think everybody believes the least if we went 'herd' (an societal immunity concept to tackle the pandemic) as they say and if you look at Brazil they're having a very hard time,” he added. Trump reiterated that China should have done more to stop the spread of the coronavirus. He said the Chinese government stopped the virus from going outside Wuhan.

“It didn't go to Beijing, it didn't get to other parts of China then you say how come it came out to Europe, to the world, to the United States? So it didn't go to China. They stopped it cold. They knew it was a problem but they didn't stop it cold from coming to the United States, Europe and the rest of the world. Somebody has to ask these questions and we'll get down to the answer,” he said.

Trump said the employment rate rising was akin to a rocket ship's journey -- in terms of soaring high.

'We have been talking about the 'V' (sign for victory). This is better than the V. This is a rocket ship. This is far better than a 'V'. A 'V' is wonderful. They were talking about, will it be a 'V', or an 'U', or a 'L'. They had no idea. And I was watching one of the (news) shows, and I have great respect for the people (journalists), and they said will it be 9 million in job losses? Are they going to report record numbers when we break 20 per cent?' the president said, recalling news coverage after the unemployment figures for April were published.

'The United States is not in that territory any longer. And now we're opening and we're opening with a bang,' Trump said.

He credited the recovery to a strong business foundation. 'So, we were able to close our country, save millions of lives, open, and now the trajectory is great,” he said. PTI LKJ IND IND