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Trump cheers US economy after June jobs surge despite virus

[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed new data showing huge jobs gains in June, but continued to downplay surging Covid-19 cases that could reverse the tentative recovery.

Employers brought 4.8 million people back to work last month, two million in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, the Labour Department reported, which dropped the jobless rate by two points to 11.1 per cent.

The new data together with the 2.7 million jobs won back in May means the economy has regained 7.5 million of the more than 22 million jobs lost since mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic as businesses were closed nationwide to prevent the spread of infections.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr Trump, who needs a strong economy to help his re-election bid in November, went through the report line-by-line, saying some of the job gains were records - without mentioning the massive losses suffered since March due to the pandemic.

"Today's announcement proves that our economy is roaring back," Mr Trump said.

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"The crisis is being handled," he continued. "This not just luck, what is happening. This is a lot of talent."

He also cheered the soaring US stock market, but left without taking questions from reporters on the surge in cases of coronavirus, or the scandal over reports that US intelligence believed a Russian unit paid bounties for Taleban-linked militants to kill US troops.

The welcome news on jobs adds to positive signs in other reports showing the world's largest economy is on the mend backed by massive government support for workers and businesses, which also helped firms rehire some employees.

But as the United States faces the world's worst coronavirus outbreak with more than 127,000 deaths and a record 50,000 new cases a day, economists fear a renewed malaise as local authorities roll back efforts to return to pre-pandemic normal and businesses are forced to shut down again.

REUTERS

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