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Joe Biden
stated on March 1, 2022 in his State of the Union address:
“Our economy created over 6.5 million new jobs just last year, more jobs in one year than ever before in the history of the United States of America.”
true half-true
President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address on March 1, 2022. (AP) President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address on March 1, 2022. (AP)

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address on March 1, 2022. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson March 2, 2022

Fact-checking Joe Biden’s State of the Union claim on scale of job gains in 2021

If Your Time is short

• Biden accurately cited the raw number of jobs created and the fact that it was bigger than any previous year for which data is available.

• However, looking at the percentage increase — a fairer way to compare 80-plus years of data — 2021 did not set a record. Going back to 1940, the percentage increase seen in 2021 was exceeded 10 times.

• Also, since different presidents have been sworn in at different points in the economic cycle, Biden’s comparison to his predecessors is not really apples-to-apples.

In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden touted the strength of the nation’s job growth in 2021.

"Our economy created over 6.5 million new jobs just last year, more jobs in one year than ever before in the history of the United States of America," Biden said.

He has a point, but it’s important to put these gains into context. 

The United States did finish 2021 with some 6.6 million more jobs than it started with the previous January. This far exceeded the previous one-year record of 4.2 million additional jobs in 1979.

 

However, as the nation’s population has grown, so has the number of jobs. Using the annual percentage increase is a better way to make comparisons across the 80-plus years for which data is available.

Using that metric, 2021 put up strong numbers but did not set an all-time record.

The number of jobs in 2021 increased by about 4.4%, which was the highest percentage since 1979. Still, going back to 1940, the percentage increase seen in 2021 was exceeded 10 times.

 

It’s also important to provide some additional context.

Comparison to the pre-pandemic level. The U.S. economy is still about 2.88 million jobs below the pre-pandemic peak — 149.6 million jobs in September 2021, compared with 152.5 million jobs in February 2020.

The question of timing. Biden entered office during a recession (and a global pandemic), but while the economy was on the upswing. Since different presidents have been sworn in at different points in the economic cycle, Biden’s comparison to his predecessors is not really apples-to-apples.

Who gets the credit? Experts always caution that a president is not all-powerful in economic matters, since many factors beyond their control, from international oil supplies to changes in technology and demographics, can shape the health of the U.S. economy.

Our ruling

Biden said, "Our economy created over 6.5 million new jobs just last year, more jobs in one year than ever before in the history of the United States of America."

He accurately cited the raw number of jobs created and the fact that it was bigger than any previous year for which data is available.

However, looking at the percentage increase — a fairer way to compare 80-plus years of data — 2021 did not set a record. Going back to 1940, the percentage increase seen in 2021 was exceeded 10 times.

Also, since different presidents have been sworn in at different points in the economic cycle, Biden’s comparison to his predecessors is not really apples-to-apples.

The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details, so we rate it Half True.

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Fact-checking Joe Biden’s State of the Union claim on scale of job gains in 2021

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