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Trump Touts Decline in US Jobless Rate


U.S. President Donald Trump holds a press conference on the economy, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 5, 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump touted the news of a surprise decline in the country's unemployment rate Friday.

"We have the greatest economy in the world," Trump said during remarks in the White House Rose Garden. "And that strength let us get through this horrible pandemic."

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, a larger decline than most analysts expected, as states relaxed restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and businesses started rehiring employees.

Trump spoke for almost an hour in what the White House described as a news conference, despite the fact that no media questions were taken. He took credit for the job numbers report as an "affirmation" of his administration's work. He likened the country's economy to a "strong patient."

"We had a patient that was so powerful, so strong that we could close it and open it," he said.

'Great day for equality'

Trump also declared it as a "great day for equality" and a "great day" for George Floyd, the African American man whose May 25th death has sparked more than a week of protests and unrest in over 100 cities across the United States. Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a white police officer pinned a knee on his neck for over 8 minutes.

In his remarks Friday, Trump repeated his "law and order" message that he delivered earlier this week along with his call to governors to deploy the National Guard to quell protests.

"Don't be proud, get the job done. You'll end up looking much better in the end. Call in the National Guard, call me," Trump said.

Beth Shafa waves an American flag near the White House, June 5, 2020. City workers and activists painted the words Black Lives Matter in enormous bright yellow letters on the street leading to the White House.
Beth Shafa waves an American flag near the White House, June 5, 2020. City workers and activists painted the words Black Lives Matter in enormous bright yellow letters on the street leading to the White House.

The president did not address systemic racism that protesters have been decrying, but did stress that Americans must have equal justice under the law.

"Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender or creed," he said.

Jobless rate

The May jobless rate remains on par with what the U.S. experienced during the Great Depression from 1929 to 1933 but is still lower than the April rate of 14.7 percent.

The U.S. Labor Department said Friday the economy regained 2.5 million jobs in May after losing more than 22 million jobs in March and April, pushing the rate lower.

Many analysts expected another month of steep job losses but the better-than-expected May report suggests thousands of U.S. businesses reopened and brought back workers more quickly than they predicted.

It could take months before those who lost jobs in March and April return to the work force, prompting some economists to predict the jobless rate could remain in the double-digits into next year.

Wayne Lee contributed to this report.

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    Patsy Widakuswara

    Patsy Widakuswara is VOA's Senior White House Correspondent. She joined Voice of America in March 2003. With over 20 years experience in international broadcast journalism, she currently reports via multi-media platforms from the White House where she focuses on delivering informative, engaging U.S. content to an international audience.

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