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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

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 8, 2021 - Podcasts

America’s lethargic labor market

As the pandemic strengthens, America's labor market weakens, based on the latest monthly jobs report that showed a loss of 140,000 nonfarm payrolls.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the numbers, what they really mean and where things head next with Axios business reporters Courtenay Brown and Felix Salmon.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

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