Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump touted June's US jobs report Thursday as "spectacular news," saying the return to work of 4.8 million Americans marks a huge comeback for an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'd like to just announce the spectacular news for American workers and for American families and our country as whole," Trump said of the Labor Department figures which also showed the unemployment rate falling more than two points, to 11.1 percent.
The job creation amid the coronavirus pandemic was far higher than economists were expecting, and showed the rapid pace of gains as people who were laid off returned to their jobs, especially in hard-hit sectors like leisure and hospitality, which accounted for just under half of the increase.
"It's all coming back," Trump said. "It's coming back faster, bigger and better than we ever thought possible."
The world's largest economy has been severely battered by the coronavirus crisis, which to date has killed more than 128,000 people in the United States, by far more than any country in the world.
But a resurgence of outbreaks, particularly in the US South and Southwest, has forced many states to reverse their re-openings, moves which could soon push unemployment numbers back up.
Trump, eager to focus on campaigning against Democrat Joe Biden ahead of November's election, appeared to dismiss the threat.
"We have some areas where we're putting out the flames or the fires, and that's working out well," he said.
But the US notched more than 52,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours Wednesday, a new one-day record as infections surge around the country.
The president hailed surges in consumer confidence and retail sales, and a historic recovery in stock market levels over the past two months following a free-fall at the beginning of the virus crisis.
He also predicted a "fantastic" third quarter would help boost his re-election chances.
"The good thing is the numbers will be coming out just prior to the election so people will be able to see those numbers."
Democrats reacted warily to June's figures.
"Today's jobs report may just be a slight peak in a much larger valley," top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said.
"Unless President Trump demonstrates real leadership in fighting the health crisis and Senate Republicans get off their hands and finally work with Democrats to quickly provide additional federal fiscal relief, the pain America is experiencing will only worsen."