Informal Exchange With Reporters on Employment Figures for May

June 1, 1984

The President. Good morning. I hope I can be heard over this.

I just wanted to say that I leave with happy news for the economic summit as far as our own situation's concerned. The figures as of 12 minutes ago were released. Unemployment has dropped -- if we include the military -- down to 7.4 percent, which is the level it was when we took office; 7.5 percent if you do not count the military, which I think would be dishonest, because they certainly have jobs. But the other significant thing is that there are far more people working because we have created at the same time, millions of new jobs to take care of the expanding work force.

So, I just wanted to give you that word -- I'm practicing on you for what I will tell the people at the summit.

Q. What will you tell the leaders about the deficit, though?

The President. About the deficit?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, if you view the deficit by the percentage of gross national product -- I will be talking to people who also have deficits in pretty much the same percentage range of their gross national products as ours. So, they will understand the problems.

Q. So, you're going to say it's nothing to worry about?

The President. Oh, no. I have been saying for 30 years that deficit spending is something to worry about, while the Democrats kept telling us that it didn't matter because we owed it to ourselves. Well, we don't believe that, and we're going to do something about the deficit, which should have been done 30 years ago.

Q. What about interest rates, sir?

The President. Interest rates? Well, they're not connected to the deficit. If you look closely at the statistics, you'll see why, when the interest rates came down by 9 percent, is when the deficit was increasing to its largest point. No, the interest rates are tied to the lack of confidence of so many in the market, as to whether we are determined to hold down inflation. And, believe me, with inflation having been at less than 4 percent for the last 2 years, I think there's evidence that they should have more confidence.

Q. Do you know when interest rates are coming down?

The President. What?

Q. Do you know when interest rates are coming down?

The President. There may be another flurry of a half a point or a point or something, but I believe that over the next period of months, yes, they will be coming down.

Thank you all.

Q. What's your message going to be at the summit?

The President. What?

Q. What's your message going to be at the summit?

The President. Pretty much what I've been saying right here.

Note: The President spoke at 8:40 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House as he was preparing to board Marine One for the flight to Andrews Air Force Base, MD, and his trip to Europe.