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New data shows strong job growth as 2022 came to an end

The economy created 4.5 million jobs in 2022, which is an extraordinary total, and which would’ve been tough to predict as the year got underway.


Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of around 200,000 new jobs having been added in the United States in November. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the preliminary tally suggests the domestic job market did a bit better than that. The New York Times reported this morning:

Employers added 223,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department reported on Friday. ... The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5 percent, back to its low point from before the pandemic.

Now that we have data from December, we can say that, based on totals that will still be revised, the U.S. economy created 4.5 million jobs in 2022. By any fair measure, that’s an extraordinary total.

What’s more, 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 6.4%. Now, it’s returned to 3.5% — a level the United States did not reach at any point throughout the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s.

I'm mindful of the chatter about whether the economy is in a recession, but by any sane 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 6.4 million jobs, spanning all of 2017, 2018 and 2019.

According to the latest tally, the U.S. economy has created 11.2 million jobs since January 2021 — far in excess of 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 developments like these by pretending not to notice them. I have a hunch GOP officials will keep the trend going today.

For some additional context, consider job growth by year over the past decade:

2013: 2.3 million

2014: 3 million

2015: 2.7 million

2016: 2.3 million

2017: 2.1 million

2018: 2.3 million

2019: 2 million

2020: -9.3 million

2021: 6.7 million

2022: 4.5 million

In early 2021, such a turnaround would’ve been very difficult to believe. And yet, here we are.