The United States Capitol Building in Washington

How we’ve changed since the last State of the Union: 6 key issues

Before President Joe Biden gives his 2023 State of the Union speech tonight, what does data show about the past year and where the country stands?

Biden used his 2022 address to lay out his top concerns and priorities, including responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, revitalizing American infrastructure and combating COVID-19. This year, Biden is expected to tout accomplishments like the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the improving economic indicators (inflation rate down, jobs numbers up) as he prepares to run for reelection. He may also call for greater bipartisanship as he confronts a combative GOP-led House.

WATCH LIVE: President Joe Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address

When we look back at many of these key data points, the overall picture may offer more of a national portrait than a presidential report card. Though Biden and his administration can craft policy and executive actions to address many issues, there are many others that neither the president nor Congress can do much about, such as controlling gas prices.

Here are some ways America has changed — or stayed the same — over the last year.

  1. Jobs

    Job growth was consistently robust across the year. There were big jumps in non-farm jobs in February, with 904,000 jobs added; July, with 568,000 jobs added; and last month, when the labor market added over half a million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The strong jobs market has led the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates eight times over the same period in an attempt to lower inflation.


    Graphic by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

    WATCH: Biden’s top economic adviser on inflation, interest rates and possible recession

  2. Inflation

    For many families, inflation has been one of the most pressing challenges, as they watched the prices of everyday items spike compared to the year before. The cost of eggs at the grocery store increased 60 percent in 2022.


    Graphic by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

  3. Police killings

    At least 88 people were killed by police in January 2023, according to Mapping Police Violence, including Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was beaten by five Black police officers in Memphis, Tennessee. More than 1,100 people were killed by police officers in 2021 and again in 2022.


    Graphic by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

    READ MORE: Police special units like the one that killed Tyre Nichols are common. Here’s why they’ve drawn criticism

  4. Abortions

    According to data from the Society of Family Planning, abortion rates fell 6 percent between April and August 2022, after the Supreme Court eliminated the federal right to the medical procedure with its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling.

    More than 87,000 abortions were performed in June. In July, when many state abortion bans began to take effect, 79,750 abortions were performed nationally.


    Graphic by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

  5. COVID-19

    The number of people dying in the U.S. from COVID-19 every week dropped substantially over the course of 2022. However, the year had a weekly average of more than 4,500 deaths during the period of late January 2022 to late January 2023.

    Despite the updated bivalent COVID vaccines available for eligible patients aged 6 months and older, only 15.7 percent of the U.S. population has received the latest booster.


    Graphic by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

  6. Gas prices

    The price of gas had begun increasing at the beginning of 2022 after a small dip. Regular gas, on average, cost $3.32 per gallon in January, before hitting a high of $4.93 per gallon in June. In California, regular gas averaged more than $6 a gallon the same month. After that peak, prices began to drop, and last month, a gallon cost $3.34 — just about what it cost a year ago.

    At the same time, oil companies have recently reported that they earned record profits in 2022; Shell made $41.6 billion, Chevron brought in $36.5 billion and Exxon made a whopping $55.7 billion in 2022.


    Graphic by Jenna Cohen/PBS NewsHour

Editor’s note: The chart on food price inflation was updated to clarify the measure of percent change over 12 months.