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Data: FRED; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of Americans who aren't employed but aren't considered unemployed because they are not looking for a job skyrocketed to 103 million in April and still accounts for more than a quarter of the U.S. population.

Why it matters: The official unemployment rate has halved in recent months (to 7.9% in September from 14.7% in April) but the number of Americans out of the labor force has not fallen with it, and, in fact, rose in September back to nearly 101 million.

Between the lines: As Fed chair Jerome Powell noted in remarks to the National Association for Business Economics last week...

  • “A broader measure that better captures current labor market conditions — by adjusting for mistaken characterizations of job status, and for the decline in labor force participation since February — is running around 11%.”

The big picture: During the Great Recession the number of people not in the labor force increased by an average of 0.12%, or 96,000 people, per month, according to an Axios analysis.

  • During the month of April, the number increased by 7% and remains 6% higher than it was in March — an average of 713,000 people removed from the labor force each month.

The bottom line: The pandemic "has resulted in millions of workers falling through the cracks of the BLS methods and definitions," says Lou Brien, rates strategist at DRW Trading, in a note to clients.

  • "Therefore, millions of people exist in an employment statistics Neverland, where the bad news doesn’t seem quite as bad because of unusual circumstances created by the pandemic."

Go deeper

Jan 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The Biden team

Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Felix Salmon, author of Capital
4 mins ago - Economy & Business

Inflation will rise. Don't panic

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

It's been 40 years since America last saw a damaging level of inflation. Yet despite that — or perhaps because of it — inflation fears are widespread, and could even become self-fulfilling.

Why it matters: The government's strategy for bringing back employment and widespread prosperity involves a necessary — yet temporary — increase in inflation. When an entire generation has never experienced such a thing, that can be disconcerting. And for the time being, Americans are not buying what the government is selling.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Gunman kills 8 people in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

A screenshot of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook during a news conference Friday morning. Photo: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department/Facebook

A gunman opened fire at a FedEx warehouse facility in Indianapolis late Thursday, killing at least eight people and wounding multiple others, authorities said.

Details: "The alleged shooter has taken his own life here at the scene," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Genae Cook said during a news conference early Friday.