State Dining Room
3:32 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, thank you very much. It’s an honor to see you all today on this beautiful afternoon — White House.
We’re here today to discuss our efforts to support our nation’s small businesses — working very hard — and safely reopen America. And that’s what’s happening. We’re doing record numbers. We’re doing numbers like nobody has ever seen before, actually.
I’m thrilled to be joined by two good friends of mine: Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska — Pete, thank you very much; and a man that I’m going to see a little bit over the weekend — and this was a really by coincidence that you happened to be here today because it was for a different reason that has to do with small business — Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma.
And we’re going to be in Oklahoma. And it’s a crowd like, I guess, nobody’s seen before. We have tremendous, tremendous requests for tickets like, I think, probably has never happened politically before. And one of the reasons we chose your state, as you know, Kevin, was that you’ve done so — so well with the COVID. You’ve handled it incredibly well. We appreciate — you both have, actually. You both have. So, congratulations.
Along with several extraordinary small-business owners from their state. Also with us are Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita. Thank you, Jovita. Very good. Small business is no longer small businesses; it’s big business. That’s one of the biggest businesses.
As a result of the virus, 22 percent of small businesses were forced to close earlier this year, including 41 percent of black-owned businesses. But under my administration’s strategy to vanquish the virus and restart our economy, small businesses across the nation are now safely reopening — all over the nation, they’re reopening at levels like nobody’s seen before.
We’re sheltering individuals at the highest risk. If you look at really high-risk individuals, we are really watching them and we’re taking care of them. And we know what the high-risk means, but largely it means older people — especially older people, senior citizens that have a tremendous — they have a problem — if they have a heart problem, if they have diabetes, if they have any kind of a problem, they’re much more susceptible. So we’re all — we’re all watching that very closely. We’ve learned a lot over the last number of months.
In the past four months, we’ve conducted over 25 million coronavirus tests and distributed over 1.5 billion pieces of personal protective equipment. America is better supplied and more prepared to reenter than, I would say, just about any other place. You look at what we’ve done with ventilators. We’re now making thousands a week of ventilators — very big, expensive, complex equipment — and we’re sending them to other countries. And we’re — we’re all stocked up. Our country is totally stocked up. Everybody has their ventilators, the maximum they can use. But we are sending them to other countries.
The nice part — and I say it a lot, because I think it’s pretty amazing — when we came here, you had very few ventilators in this country. And by the time we started, not one person that needed a ventilator didn’t get it. So everybody that needed a ventilator got a ventilator. There wasn’t one instance anywhere in our country, and we — we stocked up those shelves. The cupboard was empty, and we filled up the cupboards.
In the past four months, tremendous things have happened. But I think probably the biggest thing of all is the knowledge that we’ve gained of this disease, of this plague, of this virus. Call it what you want.
To help small businesses survive the shutdown, I approved over $670 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. And Steve, that’s been a tremendous success. And we’re talking with Democrats about doing something further now. But the numbers, the way they’re coming in, it’s been really incredible, so we’re able to spot it, but we’re here to help businesses and to help people.
To date, we’ve processed over 4.6 million small-business loans, saving and supporting an estimated 50 million American jobs, Jovita. That’s incredible. The small-business owners that we have with us this afternoon all received the PPP loans, and now their businesses are on the road to recovery and they’re doing really well. We have a lot of businesses that are doing really well.
We’re talking about a “V” shape. We’re almost like an “I” shape. “I” is straight up and down. But I talked about “V” shape, and a lot of people disagreed with me — not everybody, but a lot of very smart Wall Streeters were disagreeing. Now they’re much coming — pretty much coming on board, say it looks like it could be a “V.” So, a “V” is the thing we were shooting for and it looks like that’s what we’ve got.
I want to thank our people and my representatives for their decisive actions. And last month, we added a record 2.5 million jobs. It’s the highest in the history of our country in one month. That’s the highest number of jobs: 2.5 million. The Dow rose above 26,000 points. And we saw the largest surge in retail sales ever recorded.
Next year is shaping up to be one of the greatest years in the history of our country from an economic standpoint. I truly believe that. I think we’re going to have a great third quarter, we’re going to have a great fourth quarter, and next year is going to be a phenomenal year.
I believe that Nasdaq actually set the record — during a pandemic, Nasdaq just set — they broke their record, Larry. Is that a correct statement? So it was higher than even before. That’s an amazing — that’s an amazing achievement.
After I was elected President, our country added more than 7 million jobs, 12,000 factories, and trillions of dollars of wealth. We created nearly 9,000 Opportunity Zones. And African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American unemployment and poverty reached all-time lows.
We had the greatest employment numbers we’ve ever had, and then we had to turn it off. We saved millions of people by doing it. We did the right thing. And now we’re turning it back on, and the numbers are going up much, much faster than anybody would have thought. And that’s a great honor to see it.
And these two governors, by the way, are doing a — have done a fantastic job. Two very extraordinary men. Nebraska and Oklahoma.
We built the strongest economy the world has ever seen before the virus, and together we’re doing it again. So we did it before the virus. We had to turn it off. And now we’re doing it again, and that’s what’s happening.
So now I’d like to — maybe we’ll start off with Governor Ricketts and then we’ll get to my friend over here. I’ll be seeing so much of you in the next couple of days, I’ll take you second. (Laughter.) Okay?
Thank you very much. Please.
GOVERNOR RICKETTS: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And to all of your team here: We really appreciate your effort, your leadership, and that of your team’s to be able to help us through this pandemic, and really give us the tools to be able to manage it. The PPP program you mentioned has been tremendously successful in Nebraska.
Between — because of the great relationships our community bankers have with our small businesses, we were able to take advantage of that and really cover over 80 percent of our payroll. So it really was a fantastic way to be able to keep people working. We had the third-lowest unemployment rate in April, and we want to keep people in their jobs. We really appreciate all the work you’re doing.
And we’ve — you know, you may recall we were one of the few states that didn’t issue a stay-at-home order or a —
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
GOVERNOR RICKETTS: — shelter-in-place order. What we did is try to take common step — steps and ask people to take responsibility to be able to follow the directives that you all were putting out — with regard to avoiding large groups, washing their hands, that sort of thing, and making sure they keep, you know, six feet in distance in public. That sort of thing.
And by doing that and targeting specific higher-risk businesses that we asked to shut down for a shorter period of time, we were able to be able to stem the tide of the virus.
We’ve actually got the lowest hospitalizations in our state right now we had since the end of April. So it’s got a nice bell-shaped curve, where it went up and now it’s coming back down. Our cases are steady and flat. And now we’re just really in the mode of — of, you know, managing this.