The economic catastrophe that so many on the Right seemed to predict would accompany a Biden presidency simply hasn’t materialized. Even crediting some of the progress seen in the job market to recovery from the pandemic doesn’t simply explain it away, because it’s not as though that recovery was a given as long as the president hit some big button in a White House closet.
In January, the pace at which new jobs were added across the economy jumped — by a lot, hitting a total roughly double the total recorded for December, and the unemployment rate also fell to 3.4 percent, evidently the lowest since the 1960s. The total number of jobs added in January was 517,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the federal Labor Department. Besides beating the rate of job growth seen in December, when the number of jobs added hit 260,000, the January numbers were also above averages seen for 2022 both overall and in a series of individual areas of the economy.
The average monthly job gain in 2022 was reported this week by the Labor Department to have been 401,000. In leisure and hospitality, where the overall level of employment apparently remains lower according to this set of measurements than the number of jobs in that area before COVID-19 broadly upended the U.S. economy, the number of jobs added in January was 128,000, which was significantly above the 89,000 jobs a month added on average in 2022. Other areas of employment the latest report noted saw particularly high jumps also include professional and business services and healthcare.
Other metrics have also emerged showing constructive signs in the economy, including a consistently low rate of new claims for unemployment in a week and generally declining rates of inflation, which have advanced the country’s progression away from the substantial rates of price increase seen earlier, which reflected a problem not at all confined to the U.S.
With unemployment claims, the totals keep dropping. For the week ending January 28, the total was 183,000, lower than the totals seen for both the second and third weeks of January, in addition to the same January week in the prior year. For December, the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index data from the Commerce Department said there was a five percent rate of inflation compared to the same month the prior year and a 0.1 percent jump over just the prior month, meaning November. Data from the Labor Department reached a slightly different conclusion, showing an overall 0.1 percent decline in prices in December of last year compared to the prior month.