National Archives photo

The June unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics made Donald Trump very happy today, because the report, based on survey data from the middle of the month, doesn't reflect the sudden drop in business that's come with the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in most states. The report showed the economy added 4.8 million jobs in June, with an overall unemployment rate of 11.1 percent. That led Trump to crow at a presser that the economy was "roaring back, coming back extremely strong." Which is the sort of thing a dishonest person would say after two weeks of record-high new coronavirus infections — and 50,000 new infections yesterday. Something's roaring back all right, but it's not the economy.


There were actually two jobs reports out today: The BLS's monthly report for June, and the Labor Department's weekly report of new unemployment claims for last week. In normal times, the monthly jobs report is a fairly reliable snapshot of the employment situation, but these aren't normal times at all. The weekly unemployment numbers, for the week ending June 27, showed 1.4 million new unemployment claims, which is higher than expected, and when you add in the emergency federal benefits for gig and part-time workers who don't qualify for state unemployment, the total new claims come to 2.3 million. Next week's numbers, which will reflect new rounds of closings being ordered to slow the outbreaks all over the country, are likely to be even worse.

But happily for Trump, as this Washington Post chart illustrates, the monthly survey just happened to come right before the surge of new COVID-19 cases, giving Trump a fine excuse to lie with statistics.

Washington Post chart

The June monthly report showed a second consecutive month of job growth since the April report that showed over 20 million jobs were lost in the economic shutdown. The biggest gains came in the "leisure and hospitality" sector as restaurants and hotels started rehiring staff, but again, those are also the jobs being frozen as the virus comes back. Restaurant and bar payrolls increased by 1.5 million people, at least before many had to shut down again, and even with that increase, total employment in the industry was down 3.1 million jobs from the start of the pandemic.

Overall, the Post reports, only about a third of the 22 million Americans who lost jobs since the shutdowns began in March have gone back to work. We're still seeing unemployment rates that the US hasn't experienced since the Great Depression. And we don't have Franklin D. Roosevelt and his brain trust to help us this time.

As University of Michigan economics prof Justin Wolfers details in this helpful thread on Twitter, there are plenty of reasons to think the long-term economic hit from the virus will be much bigger than just the initial shock of shutting everything down in March. Employment couldn't help but increase as businesses reopened, but enough jobs (and employers) have gone away permanently that even if the virus really were suppressed, we'd be likely to be in a deep recession for quite a while. And the virus ain't gone.

The economy is in bad shape, and the employment picture isn't likely to get better quickly. The temporary emergency unemployment benefits from the CARES Act will expire at the end of July, and so far the White House and Republicans in the Senate don't see any reasons to renew them, or to do any new stimmy at all. WaPo notes that today's misleadingly positive June jobs report has Trump even less interested in a new stimulus package:

White House officials told outside advisers on Thursday that the jobs report makes it less likely they will approve legislation that would cost as much as $2 trillion or $3 trillion, according to Stephen Moore, a conservative close to the White House. Moore said the jobs report is also likely to shore up White House opposition to extending the significant increase in unemployment benefits approved by Congress in March.

Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday talked about providing more money for businesses and schools, but Mnuchin said they had not decided on what to do for households.

"There will be a phase four, but this makes the case in their eyes for a smaller one and makes even stronger the case for not extending the unemployment benefits," Moore said. "You don't have the sense of crisis you did a few weeks ago."

Translation: We need to get down the toilet a lot further before Trump will notice the smell. And right now, all he can think of is the momentary upturn in the stock market, which he's sure will never end, because he is an idiot.

"There's not been anything like this," Trump said Thursday morning. "All of this incredible news is the result of historic actions my administration has taken."

The really weird thing is that if Trump really wanted to get reelected, and had any sense of reality, he'd be pushing for aggressive measures to shore up the economy and help people get through the recession. Instead, he's going to apply the same technique he's taken with the pandemic: Wishful thinking, and little else.

Haha, we kid! He'll blame China and Obama, too.

[CNN / NPR / June Job Report / Weekly unemployment report / WaPo / Justin Wolfers on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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