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Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The drop in the unemployment rate last month to 7.9% from 8.4% was more the result of people dropping out of the labor force — or giving up looking for work — than it was people finding jobs.

Details: The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 61.4% in September and has fallen 2 percentage points from its February levels to the lowest since March 1976.

To put that in perspective: The 2.5 percentage point drop in labor force participation from March to April was the largest in history and the rebound has only gone halfway and now reversed.

  • The employment-population ratio, at 56.6%, is 4.5 percentage points lower than in February.

Watch this space: Women have fared especially poorly in this recession. Women's labor force participation rate dropped to 55.6% in September, the lowest it has been since February 1987.

  • 865,000 women dropped out of the labor force, compared to 216,000 men.

Of note: BLS points out that last month about 4.5 million people were prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic and therefore not counted as unemployed, though this declined from 5.2 million in August.

  • "To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must either be actively looking for work or on temporary layoff," the bureau says.

Go deeper

New state unemployment filings fall to 787,000

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

First-time applications for unemployment fell last week, according to Department of Labor data released on Thursday.

Between the lines: The overall number of Americans relying on unemployment also fell to a still-staggering 23 million. But there are continued signs of labor market strain, with more people shifting to an unemployment program designed for the long-term jobless.

The cliffhanger could be ... Georgia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1992, but Georgia's changing demographics may prove pivotal this year — not only to Trump v. Biden, but also to whether Democrats take control of the Senate.

Why it matters: If the fate of the Senate did hinge on Georgia, it might be January before we know the outcome. Meanwhile, voters' understanding of this power in the final days of the election could juice turnout enough to impact presidential results.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.