That's how many more months it would take, if the current pace of hiring continues, for the U.S. job market to fully recover the jobs lost in the pandemic.
While summer of 2022 may not seem that far off for some, it's certainly not as soon as some economists were projecting earlier this spring when hiring seemed poised to boom. In May, the economy added 559,000 jobs, double the disappointing growth in April, but still far less than the 1 million jobs or more some had originally predicted we’d see the previous two months. In fact, the lost momentum means that if monthly job growth keeps pace with the most recent three-month average, we wouldn’t get back to the number of jobs we had before COVID-19 until July 2022. (The economy, which lost 22.4 million jobs to the pandemic fallout, still has 7.6 million fewer jobs than it did in February 2020.)
Some still think there's a hiring boom brewing, particularly since there are employers finding it hard to fill positions. Some of the factors holding back hiring—like trouble finding childcare and continued anxiety about contracting the virus—may ease in the coming months. Oxford Economics, for instance, forecasts the U.S. will add 8 million people to payrolls in 2021, with 1 million-per-month job gains throughout the summer.