Donald Trump says he hopes George Floyd, who was killed by police on Memorial Day after an officer forced his knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes while facing the ground in handcuffs, is “looking down right now” and saying today is a “great thing that’s happening for our country” as the nation’s unemployment rate declined but remains higher than during the Great Recession.
The president said: “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country. It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day.”
Asked how the rate of unemployment among black Americans can be considered a “victory” as it continues to increase, the president told White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor, “You are really something.”
The nation’s unemployment rate declined from 14.7 per cent in April to 13.3 per cent in May in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered businesses and forced layoffs while millions of Americans have filed for unemployment insurance benefits.
While the decline signals recovery among some industries, and a potentially less severe of a blow from a looming recession, the US unemployment rate remains higher than at any point during the financial crisis of the late 2000s.
But unemployment among black Americans has increased by .1 per cent and by .5 per cent among Asian Americans.
The president has said that protests following the killing of Mr Floyd have “dishonoured” his memory, while he has threatened protesters with violence and his re-election campaign has used footage of memorials and other demonstrations for a video titled “Healing, Not Hatred”. That video was removed by Twitter following a copyright-infringement claim.
As states begin to “reopen” and ease quarantine restrictions during the Covid-19 crisis, employment rose in hospitality and construction industries, while education, health and retails began to see some increases, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
The increase “reflected a limited resumption of economic activity” following the nations outbreak, which has led to the deaths of more than 108,000 people and has infected nearly 2 million people in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
But “even with today’s gains the US still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world,” Josh Lipsky, director of programmes and policy at the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economic Program, said in a statement sent to The Independent. “The reality is that millions of Americans are hurtling towards a financial cliff. There is no plan in place when the unemployment enhancement runs out next month.”
The White House has considered supporting another massive relief package despite stalls in Congress.