Stimulus Update: November Job Growth Was High, Making Near-Term Stimulus Aid Less Likely

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  • The U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in November.
  • The national unemployment rate held steady from October at 3.7%.
  • A strong labor market makes it difficult to justify a round of stimulus aid.

Americans shouldn't start counting their stimulus money just yet.

At this point, it's pretty fair to say that Americans will not see a federal stimulus check hit their bank accounts in 2022. But some people may be holding out hope for a stimulus in 2023 -- perhaps even in the early part of the year.

For months on end, economists have been warning about a potential recession. And if economic conditions decline to an extreme degree, it could be enough to warrant another stimulus round.

But recent jobs data points to a labor market that remains solid. And that means a near-term federal stimulus check is highly unlikely.

Unemployment levels look good

In November, 263,000 new jobs were added to the economy, even though experts had predicted that only 200,000 jobs would be added. The national unemployment rate also stood still at 3.7%, which is comparable to what the jobless rate was right before the pandemic.

Some of the largest job-related gains came from the leisure and hospitality sector, which has been trying to rebuild since getting hammered in 2020. The healthcare industry also added a lot of jobs.

Interestingly, these new jobs were introduced at the same time a number of big names in the tech industry decided to move forward with layoffs. And that paints a somewhat confusing picture.

But let's also remember that the tech sector got battered this year, with stock values there plunging. And so it makes sense to see the tech industry in particular act with caution, especially ahead of recession warnings.

Now it is worth noting that November's monthly jobs gain represents the lowest number of new jobs added since April of 2021. However, it's also a much higher number than what we were seeing before the pandemic began. And it's certainly an indication that at this very moment, the labor market and economy are in decent shape.

Should Americans write off the idea of a federal stimulus check?

Based on current labor market conditions, it's pretty fair to say that there won't be a federal stimulus check arriving anytime soon. But if things worsen in 2023, that could change.

Of course, that's also a scenario no one should wish for. If a recession hits and it drives a wave of layoffs, the financial pain that causes could well outweigh the benefit of a single stimulus check. And while some workers might think they're immune to layoffs, the reality is that we just don't know how an economic downturn might play out.

Furthermore, an uptick in joblessness doesn't guarantee that unemployment benefits will get boosted like they did in 2020. Lawmakers took a lot of criticism for that, and they may not want a repeat.

That's why the public really shouldn't hope for another stimulus check. What people should hope for instead is a cooling of inflation.

Thankfully, the rate of inflation has been slowing down, so much so that the Federal Reserve has said it will slow its interest rate hikes in response. If that continues, consumers could end up with a world of financial relief in 2023 -- even if another stimulus round never comes to be.

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