The labor market has recovered from the brief but intense coronavirus recession of last year. When Covid hit, governments ordered lockdowns, consumers stayed at home, and many businesses closed or cut back hours. Employers cut more than 22 million jobs in March and April 2020 and the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.8%.
But massive government spending – and eventually the introduction of vaccines – brought the economy back. Employers have created 18.5 million jobs since April 2020, so the US was still 3.9 million jobs behind what it was before the pandemic. The December job report, which appears on Friday, is said to show that the economy created almost 393,000 additional jobs this month, according to a survey by the data company FactSet.
The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2%, which is close to what economists call full employment.