President Trump took a victory lap on the nation's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, touting it as the "fastest" in U.S. history during a Labor Day speech from the White House.
"We're in the midst of the fastest economic recovery in U.S. history, so we have a lot to be thankful for," Trump said Monday. "The United States experienced the smallest contraction of any western nation...You look around and see how we're doing compared to any other nation, our rise is spectacular, and we're rebounding much more quickly from the pandemic."
Trump's remarks from the White House came just a few days after the Labor Department released its August jobs report, revealing U.S. employers added 1.4 million jobs last month, sending the nation's unemployment rate tumbling to 8.4% from 10.2%. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expected the report to show that unemployment dropped to 9.8%.
While the figure marked the fourth straight month of job gains over 1 million, it's well below the combined 7.5 million jobs added in May and June before hiring cooled in July, with growth of just 1.9 million positions.
Since May, the economy has added back roughly half -- 10.6 million -- of the nearly 22 million jobs it lost during the pandemic, data show.
"That's a record," Trump said. "Second place is a long ways away."
Still, joblessness remains historically high: There are still 11.5 million more out-of-work Americans than in February, when unemployment in the country sat at a half-century low of 3.5%.
Trump also touted the better-than-expected drop in the joblessness rate – the first time it fell below 10% since March – as evidence the pandemic-ravaged economy is improving from lockdowns earlier this year that triggered a wave of job losses and business closures. (In July, the Congressional Budget Office had projected the unemployment rate would remain at 10.5% through the end of 2020.)
"We're currently witnessing the fastest economic labor recovery from an economic crisis in history, world history," he said.
Trump's comments come amid a month-long deadlock between White House officials and Democratic leaders over another round of emergency relief for workers and businesses.
The president maintained the need for another aid package and defended his decision to not meet with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in person to negotiate.
"I know Pelosi, I know Schumer very well," he said. "They don't want to make a deal, because they think it's good for politics if they don't make a deal. This has nothing to do with anything other than you to know who you're dealing with. I do. These are people that I don't have a lot of respect [for]. I don't think they have a lot of respect for the American people. And I know who I'm dealing with. I don't need to meet with them to be turned down."
The Senate returns to Washington on Tuesday.