Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The final glimpse of the labor market before election day comes this morning, and it’s expected to show job growth continuing at a slower pace.

Why it matters: President Trump, who is using his record on the economy as a key message on the campaign trail, heads into election with a labor market that has been ravaged by the pandemic and is still millions of jobs in the hole.

Flashback: Before the pandemic hit, the labor market was flourishing for large swaths of America, with the unemployment rate near a 50-year low.

Yes, but: The job gains under Trump continued the upward trend that began under Barack Obama.

  • And check out the chart above: without annotations or dates, it would be impossible to see where Obama ends and Trump begins.

By the numbers: The economy would need to add over 11 million jobs to return to where it was in February.

  • That almost certainly didn't happen in September — and it’s far above Wall Street’s most optimistic estimate of roughly 1 million jobs added last month.

What to watch: Prospects for the labor market are dimming, as businesses feel the weight of the coronavirus.

  • This week was among the worst for the labor market in recent history, with tens of thousands of workers laid off at America’s biggest businesses — including 28,000 workers at Disney theme parks.
  • Airlines are beginning to let go of 32,000 employees, in the absence of additional stimulus from Washington.
  • None of these losses will appear in the jobs report, since the survey period ended in mid-September.

The bottom line: Economists warn it will be years before the labor market recovers — if the jobs come back at all.

  • “This is not an environment for creating new jobs. The pandemic is still going. The economy is still in a very severe downturn,” Brian Rose, an economist at UBS — who expects that 5 million Americans who lost work because of the pandemic will become permanent job losers — tells Axios.

Go deeper

17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Obama: The rest of us have to live with the consequences of what Trump's done

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Campaigning for Joe Biden at a car rally in Miami on Saturday, Barack Obama railed against President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "the rest of us have to live with the consequences of what he's done."

Driving the news: With less than two weeks before the election, the Biden campaign is drawing on the former president's popularity with Democrats to drive turnout and motivate voters.

Pence to continue traveling despite aides testing positive for COVID-19

Marc Short with Pence in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force. Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning, according to the vice president's office.

AOC: "Extremely important" that Biden offer Bernie Sanders a Cabinet position

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that she believes it's "extremely important" that Joe Biden offer Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders Cabinet positions if he's elected president.

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez was pressed repeatedly on policy differences between her and the more moderate Biden, including her opposition to fracking and support for Medicare for All. She responded that it would be a "privilege" and a "luxury" to be able to lobby a Biden administration on progressive issues, insisting that the focus right now should be on winning the White House.

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