Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 20,000 workers in the railroad industry lost jobs this past year, even as the U.S. economy continued its streak of moderate growth, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Those numbers represent the biggest round of layoffs in the sector since the Great Recession — nearly a 10% drop in rail employment, per Labor Department data. Changes in the rail industry highlight signs of "ongoing pain" in the industrial sector, threatening middle-class jobs, the Post writes.

  • Some economists say American railways are enduring a "freight recession," with volumes dramatically dropping last year, notes the Post.

The state of play: President Trump's trade war has impacted U.S. agriculture and manufacturing, which in turn lowered demand for railroads to move products. The decline is also a result of the U.S. becoming less dependent on coal.

Yes, but: Railroad stocks soared after industry executives integrated automation and cost-cutting strategies to maintain profitability, "doubling down on the idea that rail's future entails longer, faster trains and fewer workers," per the Post.

  • Employment losses are expanding thanks to a technique called Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which efficiently directs rail traffic.
  • Some on Wall Street view these shifts as a model for other industries during tough times. Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific stocks jumped 30% last year, according to the Post.

Worth noting: Rail industry leaders remain optimistic as Trump looks to finalize the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), as well as a trade deal with China.

The bottom line: Freight declines have previously foreshadowed economic slumps "because they’re a barometer of how much stuff is heading to market," the Post writes.

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Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,393,591 — Total deaths: 950,344— Total recoveries: 20,679,272Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.