Dam the inflation, full speed ahead.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

While Republicans metaphorically duke it out in the House of Representatives in an ungainly effort to elect a new Speaker of the House, GOP holdouts channel Sen. Joe Manchin, and Democrats enjoy a little schadenfreude for a change, things aren’t as bad as they might appear.

While it’s unusual for the party about to inherit the People’s House to fight publicly fight over who should be Speaker — after all, Republicans have had two whole months since the election to settle this — it’s not unusual for the majority party to fight privately about the matter.

Internal elections for key Congressional committee assignments and leadership positions are highly competitive, none more so than the campaign for Speaker’s gavel.

These important inter-Congressional races normally happen behind the scenes: in meetings and committees; on zoom calls and at fundraisers; lunches and dinners.

So it is perhaps better for the American people, if not for the Republican Party, to have this messy, unseemly process play out live on C-SPAN.

Meanwhile, the final jobs report of 2022 is in, the numbers have been crunched, and the news is better than many hoped.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 223,000 in December, as strong jobs market tops expectations,” announced CNBC today, to the delight of almost everyone and perhaps the Biden Administration most of all.

White House official Twitter. January 6, 2023.

“My economic plan has always been to grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” President Biden tweeted that same day. “Today we learned unemployment is at a 50-year low after the two strongest years of job growth ever. We’re creating jobs. We’re lowering costs. Our plan is working.”

Some Twitter users were helpful enough to point out that, actually, inflation is still raging and not everything is “working”, but overall optimism in the resiliency of the U.S. economy is rebounding.

Whether 2023 will or will not bring a recession is something about which economists still don’t agree. In general, unemployment is a lagging indicator. Not all the signs are as positive. Some of the negative signs are future economic trend indicators.

Tech layoffs are shaking an industry previously considered unshakable. Sales software giant Salesforce announced this week it would be laying off 8,000 employees.

Even Amazon recently announced that it, too, would be cutting its workforce to the tune of 18,000 employees. Though that number represents a small percentage of Amazon employees, the trend is still deeply worrying.

Retail giants like Target and Walmart, which were considered equally untouchable until recently, both experienced very difficult years in 2022.

The holiday shopping season wasn’t as dire as the negative nabobs predicted. Whether or not it was sufficient to help retailers recover from a tough year is another question entirely.

All these economic woes — from lay-offs to rising production costs — flow right downstream from wealthy corporations to the smallest sole proprietorships.

If big businesses are suffering this much, small and mid-size businesses must be really feeling the pinch.

It is all well and good for Biden to tout the economic growth of the past two years as if the previous one didn’t just about wipe us out. But it might still be a long while before the U.S. economy returns to its pre-pandemic robustness.

There are a few key secrets to maintaining happiness, at least according to all those happy people in Finland who just helped that nation achieve the title of world’s happiest five years running.

“1. We don’t compare ourselves to our neighbors,” wrote Frank Martela for CNBC Health & Wellness in “I’m a psychology expert in Finland, the №1 happiest country in the world — here are 3 things we never do.”

Perhaps that’s good medicine when it comes to the U.S. economy, too. Compared to pre-Covid-19 the U.S. economy may still be struggling, it’s true. But those comparisons may be pointless.

Wherever the U.S. economy is headed over the next year, it probably won’t be backward.

Whatever 2023 brings, the December 2022 jobs report is worth celebrating.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)