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

Expand chart
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

Go deeper

Updated 21 mins ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Iraqis dressed in traditional outfits greet Pope Francis upon his arrival at Erbil airport, in the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on March 7. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting northern areas of Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq.

Cuomo faces fresh misconduct allegations from former aides

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February press conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."

In photos: Protesters rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Chaz Neal, a Redwing community activist, outside the Minnesota Governor's residence during a protest in support of George Floyd in St.Paul, Minnesota, on March 6. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.