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Expand chart
Reproduced from a Freedom House report; Chart: Axios Visuals

The slow, steady erosion of democracy around the world continued for the 13th consecutive year, according to the latest annual "Freedom in the World" report by Freedom House, a watchdog group that advocates for democracy and human rights.

The big picture: Between 1988 and 2005, democracy surged around the world. Since then, the reversal has been less dramatic, but it has been "consistent and ominous," according to the report.

  • Political rights and civil liberties became weaker in 68 countries since last year's report, and improved in only 50 countries.
  • The authors cite a shifting global balance of power in favor of countries like China, and "anger and anxiety in Europe and the United States over economic inequality and the loss of personal status" as underlying causes of the strains we're seeing on democratic institutions.
  • Globally, 39% of people live in countries deemed "free," while 24% live in "partly free" countries and 37% "not free."

A warning about the United States: The report says the U.S. freedom score has declined by 8 points (from 94 to 86) over the past eight years. It's still firmly in the "free category," but it's falling behind counterparts like the U.K., Canada, France, Australia, Germany and Japan.

  • The report blames longstanding problems like political polarization, loss of economic mobility, the influence of special interests and the rise of partisan media. But it also warns that President Trump "exerts an influence on American politics that is straining our core values and testing the stability of our constitutional system."

Other big changes:

  • Hungary was demoted from "free" to "partly free."
  • Nicaragua is now classified "not free" rather than "partly free."
  • Serbia was downgraded from "free" to "partly free."
  • Uganda was reclassified from "partly free" to "not free."
  • Zimbabwe was upgraded from "not free" to "partly free."

Go deeper

U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February

A construction worker at the World Trade Center construction site earlier this year. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images.

The economy added 379,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate dropped to 6.2% from 6.3%, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Why it matters: The first Biden-era jobs report shows hiring surged as coronavirus cases eased — though a full recovery remains far off. Economists expected the economy to add roughly 182,000 jobs last month, after adding a paltry 49,000 in January.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
53 mins ago - Economy & Business

Workers are getting a really bad deal

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

This week's spate of data highlighted the difficulties Americans who have lost their jobs have had bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic, and just how much those who have managed to keep their jobs have been working.

What's happening: The Labor Department reported Thursday that the productivity of American workers fell by a revised 4.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the largest decline in 39 years.

FBI: Trump appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The FBI on Thursday arrested former State Department aide Federico Klein, a Trump appointee who worked on the former president's 2016 campaign, on charges related to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, according to a court filing.

Why it matters: The 42-year-old Klein is the first member of the Trump administration to be arrested in connection with the insurrection, which led to the former president's second impeachment and charges against over 300 people.