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Expand chart
Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

It's a recovery quirk few saw coming: Vaccines are flowing and there’s fresh proof wages are rising — but it’s not enough to entice more sidelined workers back into the labor force.

What’s new: The economy added an impressive 850,000 jobs last month.

  • But check out the chart above. The share of workers in the labor force (i.e., they have a job or are looking for one) has barely budged in months.

Why it matters: The slow bounceback is reshaping how economists and policymakers think about how — and when — the job market recovers.

  • Will closing the gaping jobs hole “be more difficult because some people have permanently left the labor force as a result of the pandemic?” PIIE’s Jason Furman wrote today.

Bright spot: Among workers aged 25–54, the labor force participation rate bumped up to 81.7%.

  • It also ticked higher for women in this cohort, a possible sign conditions are improving for one of the harder hit demographics.
  • But all the rates are still well below pre-pandemic times.

What to watch: Economists are banking on a labor force boom in the fall.

  • That's when they say a slew of factors that encourage sidelined workers to stay put — the lingering virus threat, remote schooling, limited child care options, and amped-up unemployment benefits — could all ebb.

But, but, but: As many as 2.5 million people could be gone for good amid a flurry of pandemic-era retirements, ING economist James Knightley wrote.

Go deeper.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated Sep 17, 2021 - Economy & Business

America fought the pandemic economy — and won

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. economy is emerging from the pandemic with more well-paying jobs for those who want them, less hunger, less poverty, higher wages, less inequality, and more wealth for everyday Americans.

Why it matters: None of these outcomes were expected when the pandemic began. All of them are the result of massive government programs.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
4 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.