By STEVE PEOPLES
AP National Political Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. economy just posted its best single-month job gain in history.
U.S. unemployment is at one of its worst points since the Great Depression.
Both are true.
As Republicans and Democrats fought to spin Thursday’s jobs numbers to their advantage, both sides face tremendous political risks in navigating a delicate and defining issue heading into the presidential campaign’s final months.
Democrats, led by presumptive nominee Joe Biden, seized on the growing threat presented by coronavirus after the better-than-expected numbers were released, a stance the Republicans called rooting against America’s recovery. President Donald Trump claimed a major economic victory and played down the health threat, even as an explosion of new infections threatened to stall, or even reverse, the economic gains.
Deep uncertainty lies ahead, experts warn, despite two months of record job growth. And with only two more monthly jobs reports expected before the Nov. 3 election, the dueling visions of America’s economy establish a new frame for the high-stakes debate ahead.
“Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back,” Trump exulted to reporters at the White House after the June numbers were released. He later added, “The crisis is being handled.”
Two hours later, Biden offered a darker assessment.
“There’s no victory to be celebrated,” the former vice president said in a video recorded at his home in Delaware. “We’re still down nearly 15 million jobs and the pandemic is getting worse not better.”
“Today’s report is positive news and I’m thankful for it -- for real,” Biden continued. “But make no mistake, we’re still in a deep, deep job hole because Donald Trump has so badly bungled the response to coronavirus.”
Thursday’s data showed a surge of 4.8 million new jobs last month, a snapshot of the economy as of three weeks ago. The U.S. unemployment rate improved from 13.3% in May to 11.1% in June as many Americans thrown out of work by COVID-19 were called back.
But the jobs numbers were announced just as the nation’s confirmed coronavirus infections soared to an all-time daily high of 50,700, more than doubling over the past month, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.