President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address that his administration has "created, with the help of many people in this room, 12 million new jobs — more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years.”
Facts First: Biden’s number is accurate: the US economy added 12.1 million jobs between Biden’s first full month in office, February 2021, and January 2023. That number is indeed higher than the number of jobs added in any previous four-year presidential term. However, it’s important to note that Biden took office in an unusual pandemic context that makes meaningful comparison to other periods very difficult.
Biden became president less than a year after the economy shed nearly 22 million jobs over two months, March and April 2020, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The jobs recovery then began immediately after that, under then-President Donald Trump, but there was still an unprecedented hole to fill when Biden took office.
Biden is free to argue that his stimulus legislation and other policies have helped the country gain jobs faster than it otherwise would have. (As always, it’s debatable precisely how much credit the president deserves for job-creation.) Nonetheless, it is clear that there could only be such an extraordinary number of jobs added in 2021 and 2022 because there was such an extraordinary number of jobs lost in early 2020.