Fortune, June 2022
More Americans are finding work than any time during the past 50 years except for just a few. The 3.6% unemployment rate has been holding steady for three months in a row, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report released on Friday. With the exception of the last few months of 2019 and the first few months of 2020, it’s a lower unemployment rate than any single month throughout the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s.
That’s usually a positive sign for the economy, especially one that has been ravaged by a global health crisis. From one perspective, jobs are the whole point of the economy: More workers means more productivity and fewer people struggling to pay their bills. President Joe Biden’s stimulus package helped supercharge demand that created a jobs boom. There are just two problems: Inflation is also higher than any time since the late ’70s, and Americans don’t seem to care about all the new jobs as much as the high price of stuff.
Since America entered a post-vaccinated world and began reopening in full force last summer, consumer sentiment has been miserable. Despite the economy outperforming expectations in its recovery, consumer confidence was lower than it was during the depths of the pandemic at the end of 2021. Come May, it dropped to a 10-year low.