US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the sharp rise in unemployment claims was “fully expected” and predicted the economy would quickly rebound once the United States overcomes the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking at a White House briefing, Trump told reporters that he was not surprised by the Labor Department’s report that over 3 million Americans had applied for unemployment last week and said some people had predicted it could have been much higher.
“I heard it could be 6 million, it could be 7 million. It’s a lot of jobs. But I think we’ll come back very strong,” he said, according to The Hill.
“Every day we stay out it gets harder to bring it back very quickly and our people don’t want to stay out,” Trump continued.
“I think you’ll see a very fast turnaround once we have a victory over the hidden enemy,” Trump said, using a phrase he’s employed to refer to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has recommended that Americans avoid public places, gatherings, and travel in order to stem the spread of COVID-19, but this week he signaled he will look to loosen restrictions on parts of the country as he seeks to revive the US economy.
On Tuesday, Trump said he wants the country to be “opened up” by Easter, April 12, a goal that has prompted criticism from public health experts who caution it’s too soon to begin relaxing social distancing recommendations because of the risk it could allow the virus to further spread.
His comments on Thursday came as the latest Johns Hopkins count found that the United States now leads the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
The count shows that the number of people infected in the US topped 82,000 on Thursday. That’s just ahead of the 81,000 cases in China and 80,000 in Italy.