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

The number of people considered long-term unemployed has made a worrying bounce in recent months, as Friday's jobs report showed 3.8 million people had lost their jobs permanently in September.

Why it matters: That's almost twice as many as at the height of the pandemic in April.

What's happening: When the first waves of layoffs hit in March and April, most of the newly unemployed believed their job losses would be temporary (nearly eight in 10, according to the April nonfarm payrolls report) and reported they were not looking for work.

  • The flood of Americans who had just been laid off pushed the percentage of people who had been unemployed for at least 27 weeks to 4.1%, the lowest the rate has been since December 1953.
  • But as the pandemic has raged on and the economy has begun to unravel, more people have been sitting on the sidelines for longer.
  • Even with an additional 11 million people unemployed than in February, the percentage of unemployed people who have been without a job for more than six months returned to the same level it was at in February.

What's next: As of September, 2.4 million people had been out of work for 27 weeks or more and 4.8 million more had been unemployed for between 15 and 26 weeks.

  • Without a mass surge of hiring significantly above the levels seen in September (or even in August), the "tsunami" of unemployment economists warned me about in early August is poised to hit in the next couple months.
  • Many of those people could be without unemployment benefits when pandemic assistance programs expire at the end of the year.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 8, 2021 - Podcasts

America’s lethargic labor market

As the pandemic strengthens, America's labor market weakens, based on the latest monthly jobs report that showed a loss of 140,000 nonfarm payrolls.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the numbers, what they really mean and where things head next with Axios business reporters Courtenay Brown and Felix Salmon.

U.K. PM orders inquiry into Muslim lawmaker's discrimination claim

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, England, last week. Photo: Ian Vogler/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into allegations from a Member of Parliament in his ruling Conservative Party that she was fired from a ministerial job due to her Muslim faith, per the BBC.

Driving the news: Nusrat Ghani told the Sunday Times she was informed that she was fired from her position as a junior transport minister in February 2020 after her "Muslimness was raised as an issue" and that it made her colleagues feel "uncomfortable."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).