The latest jobs report is out—and with 4.8 million jobs added to the economy last month and unemployment falling to 11.1 percent, it’s far better than most economists had expected. It’s encouraging news, to be sure, but joblessness remains higher than at any point during the Great Recession. Furthermore, the report is a bit stale; the data, collected in mid-June, doesn’t reflect the recent decisions by governors across the country to halt reopening plans amid a surge in new coronavirus cases—moves that will very likely end the rehiring trend seen in the past two months.
In other words, any hope for a lasting, robust recovery is a distant one.
But desperate for a win—any win—President Trump on Thursday seized on the news to hold a last-minute press conference where he touted the report as “spectacular” and “historic.”
“It’s coming back faster, bigger, and better than we ever thought possible,” he said. “These are not numbers made up by me. These are numbers.”
At one point, Trump appeared to acknowledge the country’s exploding numbers of new cases and deaths from COVID-19—the United States marks the fifth straight day of record-breaking case numbers—but dismissed them as mere “fires” that were under control. “It’s got a life,” the president said, referring to the virus. “We’re putting out that life because that’s a bad life we’re talking about.” It was the latest instance of dangerous magical thinking, fueled by an obsession with how he wants the crisis to look from the outside, replacing the consequences of the disorganized, confusing, and ineffectual response from his administration to a dire public health crisis.
Naturally, Trump ended the press conference on Thursday without taking questions.