U.S. jobs surge despite bleak unemployment figures

The U.S. added 4.8 million jobs to the economy between mid-May and mid-June, according to the Labor Department's jobs report Thursday. It is the largest monthly gain in history and shows progress in winning back some ground after more than 22 million jobs were lost due to pandemic precautions shut down many businesses for months.

The June report also showed the U.S. monthly unemployment fell from 13.3% to 11.1%.

President Trump took credit for the rebound and said it's a sign of quick recovery.

"Today's announcement proves that our economy is roaring back. It's coming back extremely strong," said President Trump, speaking at a press briefing,  "These are numbers that are not numbers other presidents could have."

"This is not just luck what's happening its a lot of talent," said the President, "All of this is as a result of historic actions this administration has taken with partners in Congress."

"It seems like its starting to pick back up. I know my boss is really eager for me to get back to work," said Adam Steele of Martinez, "I'm in construction and so I see a lot of my construction buddies, they all seem to be going back to work."

The jobs report the period when many states began to ease pandemic restrictions.

"As the economy is reopened, reflecting that, we've seen improvement in just some of those industries, hospitality eating out, dining out," said Gary Schlossberg, Economist & Global Strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

The leisure and hospitality industry hired back 2.1 million workers.

The retail sector rebounded with 740,000 jobs.

Schlossberg and other economists, however, say it's too early to declare a recovery yet.

"These people were coming back off the sidelines by and large, but for one thing we still have a long way to go. We lost 22 million jobs in March and April," said Schlossberg.

The June report also does not cover the second half of June when coroavirus outbreaks began forcing officials to rethink the balance between reopening businesses and protecting people's health.

Those new outbreaks across the South and West could disrupt the recovery.

Schlossberg says recent daily data already shows some signs of a slowdown.

"The gains are beginning to wind down and that may reflect the fact that the reopening is losing a little momentum," said Schlossberg.

The jobs report also brought some bad news. The number of people permanently laid off due to businesses downsizing or closing increased by 588,000 people last month.

"I work in a restaurant so I've been laid off for almost four months," said Ramon Navarro of Concord. Navarro says he has a wife and two children. He says he hasn't been able to work and is looking for another job.

Workers are also concerned about the safety of returning to their jobs.

"I have a lot of friends that have been furloughed because of the COVID-19 and a lot of them don't want to go back to work not just yet. They don't feel safe enough to go back to work," said Steele.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate said Thursday that more must be done to boost COVID testing and the economy.

"Trump wants to declare the health crisis over and unemployment solved. Unfortunately, he's deadly wrong on both fronts," said Biden.

Democrats and Republicans have indicated they want to help Americans, but disagree on where to spend funds.

President Trump says he agrees with the Democrats' proposal for another round of direct payments to Americans.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion relief bill two months ago, but Senate Republicans say they want to craft their own bill.

Congress goes on recess for the July Fourth holiday, so negotiations over a fourth coronavirus relief package likely won't resume until late July.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at jana.katsuyama@foxtv.com and follow her on Twitter
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