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Despite falling unemployment, the 2017 economy appears to be leaving a growing number of workers behind.

Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Take for instance the gap between official joblessness and a much broader rate that includes people who have stopped looking for a job but say they still want one, along with part-time workers who want full-time jobs. Today this broader jobless rate is 8.4%, almost double the official 4.3%. The last time the official rate was this low, in 2001, the broader rate was almost a point lower.

Why it matters: A greater share of Americans are cut off from the work force today than in prior periods of low official unemployment.

In a research note to clients this week, Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics predicted that the main jobless rate will fall below 4% by the end of next year, which would be the lowest since December 2000. But he also noted that, according to recent survey data, business owners report a harder time finding qualified candidates for their job openings. That means that broader unemployment could remain stubbornly high.

Why aren't wages rising faster? Salaries began to rise faster in recent months, according to government data, but the movement should be greater when considering how low unemployment is. Economists expect wage growth to accelerate as joblessness continues to fall. But even if this occurs, it will be cold comfort to chronically jobless and underemployed on the fringes of the labor market.

Rising delinquencies: The struggles of poorer Americans can also be seen in the rise in subprime auto loan delinquencies in recent months, which are now well above pre-recession norms.

Then there is the Fed: Markets expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest interests rates at its meeting next week, and economic history shows that when the Fed starts hiking rates, recessions often follow, which, if one occurs, will be another blow to workers.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.