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(L) Lori Lightfoot. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images (R) Pete Buttigieg. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The quick rise of Chicago mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, and Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 race, shows remarkable progress by gay and lesbian politicians, with their sexual orientation getting less play than other historic qualities.

Driving the news: Both Lightfoot and Buttigieg have talked comfortably about LGBT issues and their own same-sex marriages, AP's David Crary writes.

"The real news is not that openly gay candidates are successful, but that being openly gay has become irrelevant," said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay issues.

  • This continues progress from last year's midterms, when LGBTQ candidates scored a raft of wins, including two governorships and first-ever legislative seats in Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska.

Background: It was only in 1998 that Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin became the first openly gay person to gain a seat in the House of Representatives, the AP reports.

  • There are now eight LGBT members of the House, and two in the Senate — Baldwin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, whose bisexuality never became an issue in her closely contested election campaign last year.
  • Lightfoot's victory on Tuesday, along with Satya Rhodes-Conway's win in Madison, Wisc., brings the number of LGBT mayors to 37, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
  • In Colorado, Jared Polis was inaugurated in January as the nation's first openly gay governor.

1 fun thing: Buttigieg's husband, Chasten, has amassed 182,000 Twitter followers with cheerful, wry commentary about their relationship and their dogs.

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Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.