Good News: The Recovery Has Been Even More Recovery-y Than We Thought

And high-five to employers who laughed off the fiscal cliff and accelerated their hiring

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Why is this jobs report different from most other jobs reports? On most first-Fridays, we get estimates of jobs created in the previous month. On this Friday, we also get a revision of jobs created in the previous years. Good news: We're recovering faster than we thought. (Bad news: The pace of the recovery is still only fast enough to slowly bring down our high unemployment rate.)

The story we thought we knew was that the economy had added about 150,000 jobs per month over the previous two years. This would have put this morning's report for January -- 157,000 new jobs; unemployment rate up a tick -- perfectly in line. But today's revisions showed employers added more like 180,000 jobs per month in 2011 and 2012. Even better, we averaged something like 200,000 new jobs in the last three months when the country was supposedly frozen in fear, dangling at the edge of calamity.

Three quick takeaways:

(1) For the last 24 months, job creation in the real world has been 20 percent better than what the Bureau of Labor Statistics initially thought. Cool.

(2) The people re-branding the fiscal cliff "the fiscal slope" apparently won the metaphor debate in the minds of employers. Facing a purported swan-dive into oblivion, firms didn't pull back their hiring. They accelerated it. Awesome.

(3) Don't get too excited from any one job report. This morning's revision is a bit like thinking you're running a mediocre marathon time and checking the clock mid-way through to realize you're running just a little faster than you thought. There is still quite a lot of pace to be picked up.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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