US Economy Added 15M Jobs Under Biden — But Number Requires Context

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The U.S. economy added 15 million jobs between the time U.S. President Joe Biden took office and May 2024.


Rating: Mixture
Rating: Mixture

What's True:

As the U.S. economy kept on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, it had gained 15.6 million jobs as of May 2024. However …


What's False:

About 9 million of those jobs were lost during the pandemic, so the net jobs gain from pre-pandemic levels was 6.2 million.


During the June 27, 2024, debate against former U.S. President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden claimed he had overseen a remarkable economic recovery and presided over a 15 million job increase since taking office in January 2021:

"We created 15,000 new jobs," Biden said in his opening statement, misstating the number.

"The only jobs he created are for illegal immigrants and bounce-back jobs, they're bounced back from the COVID," Trump retorted a few minutes later.

This is a claim Biden and his administration, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, the White House and Vice President Kamala Harris, had made for months. In March 2024, the White House posted on Facebook:

Nearly 15 million new jobs in just three years.

Unemployment under 4% for the longest stretch in over 50 years.

Record 16 million new business applications.

Wages keep going up and inflation keeps falling.

President Biden is growing the economy from the middle out and bottom up.

Harris posted (archived) about job creation on X on March 20, 2024: "Nearly 15 million jobs created since President @JoeBiden and I took office."

Harris post: Job growth under Joe Biden
Harris post: Job growth under Joe Biden

(@KamalaHarris / X)

It is true that in January 2021, when Biden took office, 142.9 million people were employed, and that number rose to 158.5 million in May 2024, according to seasonally adjusted figured from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, charted by the St Louis Federal Reserve. This represents an increase of 15.6 million jobs. This number, however, requires context.

Pre-Pandemic Employment Levels

In February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S., 152.3 million people were employed. Two months later, that number had dropped by 21.9 million, to 130.4 million. By the time Trump left office, more than half of those jobs had been recovered.

It took 17 more months, until June 2022, for the U.S. economy to recover the remaining 9 million jobs lost during the pandemic. From that perspective, the actual net gain during the Biden administration was 6.2 million jobs as of February 2024, not 15.6 million. This is based on our calculations using numbers from the BLS. However 6.2 million jobs is still a higher average than what former President Barack Obama achieved during his two terms (a total of 11.6 million jobs, so about 5.8 million jobs per term), with more than six months left in Biden's term.

Signs of a Strong Economy

The data shows that the U.S. economy has been strong overall under Biden. For instance, the government reported that 272,000 jobs were added to the economy in May 2024, a number that surpassed the 180,000 that had been estimated, as we previously reported. Meanwhile, while the unemployment rate had remained under 4% for more than two years, something that hadn't happened since 1967.

Further, the economy grew 3.1% in 2023, a year that 85% of economists in a survey expected would end in a recession. Given these numbers, many at the time of this writing were taking the view that it may take longer than forecast for growth to slow down.


'Analysis-Steady Fed Outlook Boosts Stock Market's Hopes for Coveted "Soft Landing"'. Yahoo Finance, 21 Mar. 2024,

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data. Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

'By the Numbers: U.S. Economy Adds Over 275,000 Jobs in February Exceeding Expectations'. U.S. Department of Commerce, 8 Mar. 2024,

Goodkind, From CNN's Alicia Wallace, Elisabeth Buchwald, Bryan Mena and Nicole. 'Live Updates: Another Shockingly Good Jobs Report Shows America's Economy Is Booming'. CNN, 2 Feb. 2024,

Guida, Victoria. 'US Growth Shatters Expectations, Boosting Biden's Economic Pitch'. Politico, 25 Jan. 2024,

'How Were So Many Economists So Wrong About the Recession?' Bloomberg.Com, 26 Dec. 2023.,

US Adds 275,000 Jobs in Feb., Unemployment Rate at 3.9%. 8 Mar. 2024.,