Economists were pleasantly surprised Thursday after employers added 4.8 million jobs in June, the largest single-month gain in U.S. history.
The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% as businesses continue to reopen, according to the Labor Department, down from a peak of 14.7 percent in April. So-called experts had only predicted a gain of 2.9 million jobs, but the number jumped significantly from 2.7 million in May, which was revised up by 190,000.
President Donald Trump celebrated the “spectacular news for American workers and American families,” as he took a victory lap Thursday at a morning press briefing.
“Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back. It’s coming back extremely strong,” he said. “These are historic numbers,” he noted as he reeled off the totals added in various sectors of the economy.
“The United States economy added almost 5 million jobs in the month of June, shattering all expectations,” Trump said. “The stock market is doing extremely well … this is the largest monthly jobs gain in the history of our country.” He called the number of jobs added to the economy in May and June “record breaking,” noting that “Eighty per cent of all small businesses are now open.”
The president has been walking a tightrope to prop up the economy since February when the coronavirus pandemic spread to the shores of the U.S., forcing workers to go on lockdown to save lives.
Finding a balance between public health concerns while preventing the complete wipe out of the economy and the livelihoods of Americans has been politically perilous for the president.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted Thursday “4.8 million jobs created last month — smashing expectations! The Trump Administration has us on the path for a great American comeback!”
GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also celebrated, tweeting, “Second HUGE jobs report in a row … 4.8 MILLION jobs created in June, blowing past expectations by 2 million. Unemployment rate dropped to 11.1%, much lower than expected. There’s no denying it: @realDonaldTrump is the JOBS President!!”
Leisure and hospitality saw the biggest increase with a 2.1 million gain, accounting for about 40% of the total growth.
Temporary layoffs also fell by 4.8 million in June to 10.6 million after a decrease of 2.7 million in May. The short-term jobless level fell by 1 million to 2.8 million.
Trump noted the spike of 356,000 manufacturing jobs and expressed optimism that many more would be added as provisions in the hard-fought China trade deal are being fulfilled.
“African American workers, really happily for me, made historic gains with 404,000 jobs added last month alone, and that’s a record,” said Trump. He called it the second largest jump in history with 700,000 jobs combined for May and June.” He also highlighted the jump in Hispanic employment with the addition of 1.5 million jobs.
“Three million more women were employed in the month of June. Workers with a high school education or less made the biggest strides of all, 3.3 per cent drop [in unemployment] — the largest in recorded history, he said.
“These are numbers that are not numbers other presidents would have,” Trump warned. “The only thing that can kill it is a bad president or a president that wants to raise taxes. You want to raise taxes? This whole thing, your 401Ks will drop down to nothing, and your stock market will drop down to nothing.”
“A lot of people would have wilted,” Trump said. “We didn’t wilt, and our country didn’t wilt.”
Jobs gains were spread out equally at 2.4 million for both full and part-time workers.
The retail industry gaining a surprising 740,000 jobs. Education and health services rose 568,000. Personal and laundry services saw another major gain, at 264,000, part of an increase in other services that totaled 357,000.
The labor force participation level jumped to 61.5%, 1.9 percentage points below its February level, a month before the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the U.S. economy.
Trump’s critics are already complaining that workers who still have jobs but have not been working are being counted as employed, even though they are supposed to be considered unemployed under Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) rules.
However, the BLS said that discrepancy “declined considerably” in June, making the actual unemployment rate only about 1 percentage point higher than the reported level.