More than 4.5 million new jobs were added in 2022, making this year second only to 2021 when it comes to adding more people to the employment roles. In just the last two years under President Joe Biden, the United States has added 10.5 million new jobs—a truly astonishing number. Those two years alone would put Biden in the top three presidents overall when it comes to job growth.
With this job growth, The New York Times reports that unemployment rates dropped to 3.5%, a number that is generally regarded as “full employment.” For months now, economists and political pundits have been pouncing on every sign of a slowdown, eager to declare that the economy is sliding toward recession. Instead, inflation in the third quarter of 2022 was less than half what it had been in the first half of the year. It dropped to only 0.1% for the month of November.
At the same time, job growth has remained strong, consistently outpacing models and showing little sign of a downturn.
“If the U.S. economy is slipping into recession, nobody told the labor market,” said Chris Varvares, co-head of U.S. economics for S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The number of jobs added in December, though good, is a decrease from previous months in 2022. That decrease is likely due to two factors: the already tight market for new employees, and the Federal Reserve’s move to repeatedly raise interest rates in an effort to tamp down inflation. The number of new jobs added in December was about twice what the Fed has targeted as “sustainable.”
In fact, the Fed is fully expecting that their interest rate increases will bring on a recession. The increases have made it more difficult for startups to grow and for existing companies to expand. They’re also having an impact on real estate prices, new home sales, and other areas of the economy sensitive to interest rates. In spite of concerns about a housing bubble and office vacancies, construction jobs were up by 28,000. Tech jobs were also up, in spite of widely publicized job losses at Twitter, Amazon, and other billionaire-owned companies.
The Fed is predicting that employment will fall by over a percent in the coming year as they drop the economy into the cooler. However, so far, the demand for workers hasn’t followed expectations. That’s causing stocks to sink because Wall Street fears the continuing growth in jobs will only encourage the Fed to raise interest rates again—one of the regular demonstrations of the perverse relationship between the stock market and the economic well-being of the average American.
If the stock market hates seeing Americans find work, President Biden does not.
“Today’s report is great news for our economy and more evidence that my economic plan is working,” said Biden. “The unemployment rate is the lowest in 50 years. We have just finished the two strongest years of job growth in history. And we are seeing a transition to steady and stable growth that I have been talking about for months. We still have work to do to bring down inflation, and help American families feeling the cost-of-living squeeze. But we are moving in the right direction.”
What a way to start the new year! On the first episode of season two of The Downballot, we're talking with Sara Garcia, the strategy and outreach manager at Crooked Media—home of Pod Save America—about everything her organization does to mobilize progressives and kick GOP ass. Sara tells us how Crooked arose to fill a void in the media landscape, how it not only informs listeners but also gives them tools to take action, and some of her favorite shows that she loves to recommend to folks.
Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss the Republican shitshow currently unfolding in Congress—and starkly different outcomes in two state legislatures that just elected new House speakers via bipartisan coalitions; the landslide win for the good guys in a special election primary in Virginia; why George Santos faces serious legal trouble that will very likely end with his resignation; and the massive pushback from progressive groups and labor unions against Kathy Hochul's conservative pick to be New York's top judge.