Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Employment Projections

Macro Projections Evaluation: 2012–2022

BLS projects an economy at full employment. Therefore, it is most informative to assess the accuracy of projections through comparisons to an economy at full employment, also known as potential values.1 Potential values are available for GDP and the unemployment rate. Actual values, although affected by cyclicality and not directly comparable, are also included for reference. For more information, refer to the evaluation methodology.


The BLS 2012–22 projection of GDP was 0.5 percent lower, than potential GDP.2 When the projection was made in 2012, the COVID-19 recession was not foreseen. The BLS projection outperformed the naïve projection.3(See Table 1.)

 Table 1. GDP projections, actual, and potential (in billions, 2012 dollars)
Level CBO Potential Estimate
Difference in Percent

BLS 2022 projection

20,094 -104 -0.5


20,794 596 2.9


20,014 -184 -0.9

CBO Potential

20,198 - -
Gross Domestic Product, historical and projected

View Chart Data


Unemployment Rate

BLS projected an unemployment rate that ended up being higher than potential, 5.4 percent compared to 4.4.

Table 2. Unemployment rate, projected, actual, and potential
Fill Rate CBO Potential Estimate
Difference in Percent

BLS 2012 projection

5.4 1.0 21.7


3.6 -0.8 -18.9

CBO Potential

4.4 - -


Unemployment rate

View Chart Data



1 Potential values are estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). For more information on the potential output assumption and how it relates to BLS projections see

2 CBO estimates are in 2012 dollars. The 2022 projections are reweighted to 2012 dollars in order to compare the two series.

3 For the naïve model, the average growth rate for CBO's potential GDP (at the base year 2012) was calculated backward 10 years to 2002 and projected forward 10 years to 2022.

Return to Projections Evaluation Homepage


Last Modified Date: January 19, 2024