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Sue Ogrocki/AP

South Carolina's unemployment rate is at such historic lows that the state's employers are complaining of labor shortages, reports Charleston's The Post and Courier. The state is responding with job training programs for convicts that have helped participants find jobs at a 75% rate, well above the 25%-40% employment rates for ex-convicts nationwide.

South Carolina's push is just one of several efforts by governments around the country to combat joblessness among ex-offenders, a population that includes one-in-fifteen working age adults, per the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Why this is happening now: Policymakers are hoping to respond to complaints from employers about a lack of qualified workers, but economists are also warning that ex-convicts' absence from the labor force could be a long-term headwind for the economy too.

  • The U.S. prison population has increased five-fold over the past 50 years, and it's estimated that there may be close to 5 million working-age adults with felony convictions.
  • If these would-be workers are being kept from jobs because of the effects of the justice system, that means lost wages for families and communities that need it most.
  • The growth of the labor force is slowing as the U.S. population ages, and that means the U.S. economy could benefit from job re-entry programs now more than ever.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.