There really is no other comparative period for this. The reason I predicted (back in January 2018) a recession in 2020 was because I thought the stimulus from the tax cuts and spending increases would cause the economy to accelerate, leading to inflationary pressures, causing the FED to raise interest rates faster than planned (the FED raising its short term rate is the cause of the inverted yield curve that has preceded the last 5-6 recessions). However, the relationship that I (and the FED) relied on has changed....AGAIN.
The relationship between unemployment and inflation (the Phillips Curve) has changed. The FED uses the concept of NAIRU, the rate of unemployment it believes will trigger inflationary pressures from wage gains) to guide its interest rate policy. In the mid 1990s, NAIRU was believed to be about 6%, and Greenspan argued it had decreased due to technology, so the FED held steady on rates and allowed the economy to expand, not raising them until mid 1999--hence the long Clinton expansion. Based on that experience, they adopted a new estimate for NAIRU of 4.5%. The FED started raising rates when unemployment hit 5% back in December of 2015 because it thought inflationary pressures would start to build. However, inflation remained subdued, even as unemployment dipped below 4% in early 2018. The FED was struggling to explain things, and some of the doves were starting to argue they should hold steady on rates until inflationary pressure could actually be observed. Then Trump's trade war started impacting manufacturing last year, so they started to lower rates again. So currently no one at the FED really knows what the value of NAIRU is, so they have taken a wait and see approach.
As I've stated several times, employment growth under Trump hasn't been much different than the previous several years under Obama. I've posted these before, the average monthly job gains by year for the past 6 years:
Trump's job gains have not been extraordinary, and neither has RGDP growth.
The real issue is why hasn't the low unemployment rate of 3.5% caused an acceleration in wages leading to higher inflationary pressures? I'm in the camp that believes workers' bargaining power is non-existent because of things like globalization, the decline in unionization, non-compete clauses, and economic concentration (monopolies) which give large corporations "monopsony" power in bargaining with workers. While we have seen some uptick in wage gains, they are not enough to cause inflation to exceed the FED's 2% target. Eventually, one would think, we would have to see a trigger point, with businesses having to raise wages to attract even moderately skilled workers. Interesting times.
Prognosticating, economic growth for 2019 is back to Obama era levels--it will come in somewhere around 2.3% +/- 0.2 (i'm basing this on the average monthly growth in jobs above, with 2019 much lower than 2018). If the economy continues to grow at this rate, it puts things in a sweet spot, where employment grows without putting upward pressure on wages, and it the economy will probably muddle along the entire year like that. If Trump and China come to a more significant agreement and manufacturing recovers, then growth will be higher and it could set the FED back on its interest rate increase path, which is ultimately the cause of recessions. For market players, that's what you want to watch out for--at the first whiff the FED will reverse course (raise rates again) is when you should get defensive.