10 Best (and Worst) Months for Jobs Since the Recession

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The new U.S. Bureau of Labor (BLS) report of monthly net job additions and unemployment showed the economy added 312,000 jobs, the eighth best month in the decade since the Great Recession. The spread between the 10 months in which the most jobs were added over that period and the 10 worst months is huge. The worst months were during the recession, as would be expected. However, some of the best months were very early in the recovery, as the U.S. economy rebounded from its worst downturn since the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The best single month for net job additions as defined by the BLS was May 2010, at the very start of the recovery. The economy added 522,000 jobs, 49% more than any other month over the period. It was only a short time earlier that the economy had its worst month for jobs. In March 2009, the drop in net jobs was by 802,000. All the 10 worst months were in 2008 and 2009.

A look at the best months for job additions shows that they come in the middle of the recovery and not at the end. The new December jobs number is an outlier. Two of the 10 months in which the economy added the most jobs were in 2014 — in April 311,000 and in November 307,000. Two were in 2015 — in October 351,000, the second best month over the entire 10 years, and in May 326,000, the fourth best month over the entire period.

Across all the months over the past decade, that average addition was about 200,000, which makes the December number all the more impressive.

From an economist’s standpoint, one of the most critical observations is that all the job growth has not created inflation, which has happened in almost every other recovery or period of rapid job growth. Inflation over the past four years has remained below 2%, for the most part, an indication that this recovery is like very few others.

There has been speculation that in 2019 the rate of job growth will taper off. The number for December indicates that is not a sure bet.

The best 10 months for job additions:

Month Year Net added (000)
May 2010 522
Oct. 2015 351
Jan. 2012 348
May 2015 326
July 2016 325
Feb. 2018 324
April 2011 323
Dec. 2018 312
April 2014 311
Nov. 2014 307


The worst 10 months for job additions:

Month Year Net lost (000)
May 2009 −354
Sep. 2008 −443
June 2009 −469
Oct. 2008 −475
Feb. 2009 −704
April 2009 −704
Dec. 2008 −707
Nov. 2008 −759
Jan. 2009 −787
March 2009 −802