Record number of US jobs added in 2021, but it’s not all positive

Incredible gains have been made in the job market over the last year, but overall, numbers remain low.

The year 2021 began with the labor market at a low point, but 6.4 million jobs were added over the past year, surpassing expectations, The Washington Post reports. There were also paycheck gains for workers across the country.

However, those 6.4 million jobs represent just a 4.5% increase in the workforce, meaning 2021 is only the 11th best year for the market since 1939, when record-keeping began.

Numbers are also distorted because the recovery isn’t complete. The economy lost 22.4 million jobs at the height of lockdowns and has regained only about 19 million. To catch up with population growth, the economy needs 5 million additional jobs. 

Now, Americans are experiencing greater job security, and there are more openings per job seeker than there has been since the government began keeping track in 2000. However, the number of available workers remains low. 

And the numbers for December 2021’s report were measured in the middle of the month, prior to omicron causing a widespread surge in COVID-19 cases. If this variant affected the labor market like delta did, it won’t show up until next month’s numbers. Read the full story.