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"It's Not Like We Have a Massive Recession or Worse," Says Trump After 10 Million Lost Their Jobs in Two Weeks

"It's artificial because we turned it off," Trump said of the economic crisis, a distinction that makes no difference to the millions who have lost their jobs and their health insurance.

President Donald Trump speaks in the press briefing room along with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the White House April 2, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

During a Coronavirus Task Force briefing late Thursday following news that 10 million Americans filed jobless claims over just a two-week period last month, President Donald Trump downplayed the intensifying economic downturn as "an artificial closing" and insisted that businesses like restaurants will be "bigger and better" than before once the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

"It's not like we have a massive recession or worse. It's artificial because we turned it off," Trump said, drawing a distinction that makes no difference to those who have lost their jobs—as well as employer-provided health insurance—or seen their hours drastically cut due to the crisis.

"Oh thank God, for a second I thought I was actually unemployed and not just artificially unemployed," one Twitter user quipped in response to the president's comments.

Amid widespread criticism that the federal government's economic stimulus and relief efforts have been far too slow and inadequate, Trump said "we will probably do more."

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The president's remarks came after the Labor Department announced Thursday morning that 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, a record-breaking figure that economists warned could portend an unprecedented depression.

"This kind of upending of the labor market in such a short time is unheard of," wrote Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute. "Given the incredible deterioration of the labor market in a matter of weeks, federal policymakers will absolutely need to come back and provide more desperately needed relief, and more support for the recovery once the lockdown is over."

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