Transit bus, TriMet, Portland, We're Hiring
TriMet bus sign in Portland, OR, advertising job openings. Photo credit: Steve Morgan / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The new jobs report is further evidence that higher interest rates will not result in a feared recession but rather in the much-preferred “soft landing.”

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Defying gloomy predictions for the employment market in 2023, the US economy keeps adding jobs and ended the year on a strong note. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that non-farm payroll employment was up a solid 216,000 in December. That figure once again beat forecasts. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent. Unless something unforeseen happens this month, that rate will have been below 4 percent for two straight years. 

These numbers indicate that, in spite of higher interest rates meant to combat rising inflation, US employers are more likely to keep adding jobs rather than shedding them. 

That, in turn, is evidence that those interest rates will not result in a feared recession but rather in the much-preferred “soft landing” that seemed more like wishful thinking not too long ago. 

Still, although the unemployment figures and other data indicate that the economy is strong, many polls indicate that Americans believe that it is going in the wrong direction. 

For example, a survey last month showed that nearly 60 percent of them think that the country is currently in a recession. 

Fighting this stunning level of ignorance will be a key challenge for President Joe Biden this year. If he wants to be reelected, he has to convince Americans that things are much better than they are being told by Fox News and the right-wing propaganda machine.

So far, he has failed. Instead, it is his predecessor Donald Trump who is successfully gaslighting voters into believing that he presided over a historically good economy.

A quick look at the numbers shows that wasn’t the case. Of course, in fairness to the former president, he also had to deal with the effects of a global pandemic. Then again, the inflation that keeps dragging Biden’s numbers down was also a worldwide phenomenon, and, as opposed to the pandemic, the US fared much better than most of its peer nations. 

Democrats hailed the latest job report, arguing the strong economy is the result of policies they put in place when they controlled Congress and the White House. 

“With a total of 2.7 million new jobs created, 2023 was a year that beat expectations by every metric,” stated Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee. “With the Democratic investments made in 2021 and 2022, the recession some had predicted never materialized, inflation is down and nearing the Fed’s 2 percent target, and unemployment has been below 4 percent for 23 months in a row.”

However, Boyle also noted that, later this month, the GOP could torpedo the economy by shutting down the government. 

“We are now two weeks away from yet another Republican government shutdown which American families simply cannot afford.”


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