On March 26, the Department of Labor revealed that more than 3 million Americans have filed unemployment claims in the past week. The coronavirus pandemic, which effectively halted the economy, is to blame for the sharp rise. The numbers indicate that a devastating economic meltdown is around the corner.
According to President Donald Trump, the increase in jobless claims is not surprising. During the daily press briefing at the White House, Trump said that the rise in unemployment claims was “fully expected” and acknowledged that the situation might get worse, per The Hill.
“I heard it could be 6 million, it could be 7 million,” Trump said when asked about the Department of Labor statistics. “It’s a lot of jobs. But I think we’ll come back very strong,” he stated. The president then suggested that he is looking to reopen the economy as soon as the United States overcomes the coronavirus outbreak.
“Every day we stay out it gets harder to bring it back very quickly and our people don’t want to stay out. I think you’ll see a very fast turnaround once we have a victory over the hidden enemy.”
“They’re going to be practicing as much as you can social distancing, washing your hands and not shaking hands. But they have to go back, our country is based on that,” Trump said, adding that “we’ve got to start the process pretty soon.”
As The Hill notes, Trump suggested earlier this week that he wants to reopen the economy by Easter. Today, in a letter penned to the nation’s governors, he once again argued that Americans need to “go back” to work. In the memo, the president revealed that his administration is working on a system that would label counties as high-risk, medium-risk or low-risk.
Such a system would help officials in states across the country determine whether to loosen or tighten restrictions, according to Trump. According to public health experts, resuming normal activity prematurely would allow the virus to further spread across the United States, infecting millions of Americans and overburdening the health care system.
Some have criticized Trump’s response to the pandemic, but the public disagrees. According to the latest polling from Gallup, 60 percent of Americans believe the president is handling the outbreak well. Ninety-four percent of Republicans, 27 percent of Democrats, and 60 percent of independents are satisfied with the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump’s handling of the crisis has also caused an increase in his overall approval rating, which is now back to 49 percent, matching the highest rating of his presidency. According to Gallup, this is consistent with historical data which suggests that Americans rally around presidents during national crises.