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2022 had the lowest total unemployment rate ever

Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

By Samantha Delouya, CNN

(CNN) — Job openings surged and the Great Resignation was in full swing in 2022 as the labor market slowly rebounded from the shocks caused by the pandemic.

But new government data illustrates just how strong the record-breaking job market really was.

The annual jobless rate for 2022 – known as the “work-experience unemployment rate” – fell to 7.6%, according to the “Work Experience of the Population” report released annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s the lowest yearly unemployment rate ever recorded.

While employment data is released monthly by BLS, this report, which was released Tuesday, provides a snapshot of the labor market for all of 2022.

Overall, significantly fewer people were unemployed at some point during 2022 compared to the year prior: 13 million people experienced unemployment in 2022 compared to 16.1 million in 2021, according the report. More people rejoined the labor force in 2022 as well.

About 171.8 million people worked or looked for work in 2022, up by 2.1 million from the prior year.

The historic low in unemployment came amid a significant worker shortage: for most of 2022, more jobs were available than there were job-seeking Americans. The worker-friendly labor market gave millions of Americans the confidence to leave their jobs in search of better working conditions and pay – a phenomenon that became known as The Great Resignation.

The trend was so prevalent that Beyoncé even released a song about it.

The job market was strong across most demographics in 2022 and the annual unemployment rate declined for women, men and all major race and ethnic groups, BLS data found.

The tight labor market in 2022 helped set the economy on track after a short pandemic-induced recession as wages rose and consumer spending picked up, but the job market’s muscle may have been a double-edged sword, contributing to surging inflation.

Inflation peaked in June 2022 when consumer prices jumped by 9.1% year-over-year, the highest level in 40 years.

While the labor market has cooled off slightly in 2023, it has remained resilient, even as the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates to the highest level in 22 years, hoping to slow demand in an effort to bring down inflation.

The unemployment rate dipped to 3.7% from 3.9% in November, and the US economy added 199,000 jobs, according to the latest monthly data from the BLS.

– CNN’s Alicia Wallace contributed to reporting.

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Article Topic Follows: Economy

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