It took 10 years, but a key metric for America's economic health is back at pre-recession levels.

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Data: OECD via Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The big picture: Nearly 9 million jobs vanished in 2008-09, pushing the unemployment rate to 10% and spurring millions to abandon looking for work, the AP notes.

  • "For five years after the Great Recession ended in 2009, many Americans gave up on their job hunts. ... Because they weren’t actively seeking work, they weren’t even counted as unemployed."

Why it matters: "The rebound has confounded many experts’ projections."

  • "The Federal Reserve has consistently underestimated the likelihood of more people finding jobs."
  • "In 2013, its policymakers estimated that 'full employment' — the lowest point to which unemployment was thought capable of reaching without sparking higher inflation — would arrive when the unemployment rate was between 5.2 percent and 5.8 percent."
  • "And in 2014, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that the proportion of people ages 16 and up either working or looking for work ... would be just 62.5 percent by the end of 2017 and would decline thereafter. Instead, the figure reached 63.2 percent in January, a five-year high."

Between the lines: This is forcing employers to be more flexible about who they hire, which especially benefits people with gaps on their resumes.

  • "Many companies are relaxing their education or experience requirements, according to economists and staffing agencies."
  • "They are considering more applicants with disabilities."
  • "Businesses are expanding their training programs."
  • "Some ... are also looking with a more open mind at people with criminal backgrounds."

P.S. The European Central Bank is launching measures to help revitalize the eurozone's slumping economy, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.

Go deeper: Sidelined workers could keep job growth from stalling

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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
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