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Job market stays hot, unemployment rate matches 54-year low

The last time the unemployment rate was this low, we hadn’t yet landed on the moon and Woodstock was still a few months away.


Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of about 180,000 new jobs having been added in the United States in April. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those projections turned out to understate what appears to be an extension of the hot job market. CNBC reported this morning:

Job growth fared better than expected in April despite bank turmoil and a decelerating economy, the Labor Department reported Friday. Nonfarm payrolls increased 253,000 for the month, beating Wall Street estimates for growth of 180,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate was 3.4% against an estimate for 3.6% and tied for the lowest level since 1969.

While the unemployment rate isn’t my favorite metric, it’s worth noting for context that in January 2021, when President Joe Biden was inaugurated, the unemployment rate was 6.3%. Now, it’s 3.4% — a level the United States did not reach at any point throughout the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Before this year, the last time the jobless rate reached a figure this low was May 1969. (We hadn’t yet landed on the moon and Woodstock was still a few months away.)

I’m mindful of the chatter about whether the economy is in a recession, but by any reasonable measure, these are not recession-like conditions.

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 presidency — when the Republican said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet — the economy created roughly 6.35 million jobs, spanning all of 2017, 2018 and 2019.

According to the latest tally, the U.S. economy has created nearly 13.2 million jobs since January 2021 — roughly double the combined total of Trump’s first three years.

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

This post is a revised version of our related earlier coverage.