President Trump on Friday touted May’s unemployment numbers and insisted a coronavirus economic recovery is coming “earlier” than thought — while calling on the governor of Maine to open up the state.
During a speech in Guilford, Maine, Trump highlighted Labor Department figures released Friday that reported employers added 2.5 million jobs in the month of May, the largest spike on record.
“It was supposed to lose 9 million jobs lost,” the president told a crowd at the Puritan Medical Products plant in Maine. “I call it a transition to greatness. It’s coming a little earlier than I thought.”
“It’s amazing, so we absolutely shattered expectations,” Trump added. “More than double, about double the largest monthly job increase in American history.”
Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expected the report, conducted in mid-May, to show that unemployment rose to 19.8 percent in May and that employers would shed 8 million jobs. Instead, the unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent.
“We have a very important election, the only thing that could screw this up is the wrong president. They raise your taxes,” Trump said. “In my administration, we live by two simple rules: buy American and hire American.”
Leisure and hospitality, the sector hit hardest by the outbreak of the virus, accounted for almost half of the increase, with more than 1.2 million employees returning to their jobs last month. In April, the industry lost a staggering 7.6 million jobs.
At the same time, the president called on Maine Gov. Janet Mills to “open your state up.”
“When are you going to open this state up?” Trump asked the crowd. “You have December for Tiffany’s, this is your December. This is your Christmas in terms of tourism. You ought to get the state open. Governor, open up your state.”
Beginning June 1, Maine entered Phase 2 of reopening, which includes restaurants, fitness centers, salons, lodging and campgrounds and state parks.
Phase 3 is set for July 1 and will include the reopening of lodging, outdoor recreation, bars and personal services.
The president tweeted about the jobs report 12 times in the hours following the figure’s morning release. And in his remarks, Trump proclaimed that “today is probably the great comeback in American history.”
He predicted that “it’s not going to stop here. it’s going to keep going.”
And on Twitter, he took another shot at his Democratic challenger saying “The only one that can kill this comeback is Sleepy Joe Biden!”
Biden emphasized that he’s “truly glad to see that two and a half million Americans have gotten their jobs back. For those families, it’s a sigh of relief.”
But taking aim at Trump, he said “I was disturbed though to the see the president crowing this morning, basically hanging a ‘mission accomplished’ banner out there when there’s so much more work to be done. So many Americans are still hurting. More than 20 million Americans, one out of every seven workers, is still out of work. For an enormous swath of our country, their dreams are still on hold and they’re still struggling to put food on the table and wondering what will happen tomorrow.”
The president’s stops in Bangor are Guilford are both in the state’s second congressional district.
Maine and Nebraska are the only two states in the nation that divvy up some of their electoral votes according to congressional districts. Maine’s conservative 2nd CD – the largest district by size east of the Mississippi River – was carried by Democrats for a quarter century until Trump won its one electoral vote in 2016.
The state’s only Republican member of the congressional delegation – Sen. Susan Collins – did not make the trip home with the president. Collins, who’s facing an extremely difficult re-election this year, decided to stay in D.C. to deal to her federal work.
A spokesperson for the senator said that Collins had last month visited the Puritan Medical Products plant that the president was touring on Friday.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.