Economy Adds a Surprising 467,000 Jobs in January, Despite Omicron Keeping Millions Home from Work

February 4, 2022
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Author: Mallory Vachon, Ph.D., Sr. Economist

In January, the U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs, surprising many economists who were expecting more modest gains or even a loss of jobs in January. Due to annual revisions, 2021’s jobs numbers were revised upward by a total of around 217,000 jobs.

National Labor Market Performance - January 2022

While unexpected, January’s strong jobs report kicks off what is likely to be a good year for jobs and economic recovery. LaborIQ projects 72.4 million hires and nearly 4 million jobs added.

The main problem businesses will face in 2022 is finding and retaining talent – LaborIQ forecasts 42.9 million quits and around 90 million job openings. In December 2021, there were 10.9 million job openings but only around 6 million unemployed workers to take those roles. And elevated quits mean workers are seeking new opportunities for higher pay or increased benefits, leaving talent acquisition professionals with the task of backfilling open roles.

Perhaps the most important factor in the talent shortage is that there are around 896,000 fewer workers in the labor force now, compared to February 2020.

A Look Ahead: 2022 Still Promises Strong Recovery

The economy lost 22.4 million jobs in the early months of the pandemic, and around 2.9 million jobs remain unfilled. While 2022 begins with more challenges than anticipated, the outlook for this year remains strong. At a pace of roughly 261,000 jobs added per month – less than the average monthly gains of around 555,000 per month for 2021 – all jobs lost to the pandemic would be recovered by the end of 2022.

Top States for Jobs in 2021

In 2021, the U.S. added a record 6.7 million jobs, eclipsing the previous high of 4.3 million in 1977.

Top States for Jobs in 2021

The top 5 states accounted for 44% – or nearly 2.8 million – of the national job gains. Of these states, Texas is the only one – along with Arizona, Idaho and Utah – to recover all jobs lost to the pandemic.

  1. California – 954,400
  2. Texas – 694,400
  3. Florida – 479,300
  4. New York – 378,200
  5. Illinois – 262,600

Top Job Markets in December 2021

While businesses everywhere are facing the same talent crunch, some areas have seen big increases in hiring in recent months. Talent acquisition professionals in these areas will remain hard at work!

The top markets – including some of the country’s largest cities – added more than 115,000 jobs combined in December 2021. Dallas has already recovered all jobs lost to the pandemic and continues to grow.

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City – 34,100
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim – 28,700
  3. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land – 20,400
  4. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell – 18,600
  5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington – 13,900

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy reports, forecasts and advises on employment conditions and the impact to jobs, industries and businesses across all U.S. cities.