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Job fair
Job candidates use their mobile phones as they wait for an interview at a job fair Los Angeles on May 21. Damian Dovarganes / AP

Job growth totals continue to impress as hot streak continues

We’ve all heard plenty of talk about a possible recession, but at least for now, there’s no evidence of it in the U.S. job market.


Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of about 328,000 new jobs added in the United States in May. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the preliminary tally suggests the domestic job market did even better than that. NBC News reported this morning:

Employers added 390,000 jobs in May, signaling a slight slowdown in the U.S. job market that for months has been on a tear.... The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6 percent.

It’s worth emphasizing that the word “slight” is important: We had 12 straight monthly jobs gains above 400,000 for the first time since the government started maintaining national jobs records in 1939. Today’s report suggests the total has broken the streak and dipped below that threshold, but only a little.

The nation’s 3.6 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since President Joe Biden took office, and is nearly as low as the 3.5 percent rate from before the start of the economic crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic. All told, the U.S. economy has now gained back roughly 96 percent of its pandemic job losses — and it’s happened faster than hardly anyone thought possible a year ago.

The news wasn’t all great: The combined revisions on job totals from March and April were revised down a bit. What’s more, some cooling in the job market would probably make the Federal Reserve feel better about inflation.

That said, the overall picture is absolutely worth celebrating: So far in 2022, the economy has created 2.44 million jobs, and that’s after just five months. By any fair measure, that’s an extraordinary total, more in line with what we’d expect to see in a full year.

We’ve all heard plenty of talk about a possible recession, but at least for now, there’s no evidence of it in the U.S. job market.

As for the politics, let’s circle back to previous coverage to put the data in perspective. Over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump’s term — when the then-Republican president said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet — the economy created roughly 6.5 million jobs. This includes all of 2017, 2018, and 2019.

According to the latest tally, since January 2021, the U.S. economy created 9.1 million jobs — well above the combined total of Trump’s first three years. In fact, this year’s total to date exceeds any individual year of the former president’s term.

In recent months, Republicans have responded to these developments by pretending not to notice them. I have a hunch GOP officials will keep the trend going today.