On The Money: Economy loses 140K jobs in December, first losses since April | Biden previews COVID-19 proposal ‘in the trillions of dollars’ | Democrats vow to deliver $2K checks with control of Senate
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THE BIG DEAL—Economy loses 140K jobs in December, first losses since April: The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, the first reported losses since April, as the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.7 percent.
Economists expected a small jobs gain of nearly 50,000. The drop is the latest sign of a weakening economy amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. All in all, the economy remains about 10 million jobs below its pre-pandemic levels.
“There’s not much comfort to be taken from the stable unemployment rate, given that millions of Americans have left the labor force with nearly 11 million listed as officially out of work,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.
“Between the human and economic tolls taken by the pandemic, these are some of the darkest hours of this soon-to-be yearlong tragedy.”
The Hill’s Niv Elis breaks down the report here.
December’s job losses:
- The biggest losses were concentrated in leisure and hospitality, a sector particularly vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic, which lost an astonishing 498,000 jobs.
- State and local government payrolls shed 51,000 jobs. Congress deferred passing state and local aid in its latest COVID-19 relief bill.
- But the overall loss would have been worse had it not been for gains in professional and business services, which added 161,000 jobs; retail trade, which added 120,500 jobs; and construction, which added 51,000.
LEADING THE DAY
Biden previews COVID-19 proposal ‘in the trillions of dollars’ President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCapitol Police officer dies following riots Rep. Joaquin Castro wants to prevent Federal government from ever naming buildings, property after Trump Tucker Carlson: Trump ‘recklessly encouraged’ Capitol rioters MORE on Friday previewed a COVID-19 relief bill that he said would be “in the trillions,” setting the stage for the first major legislative push of his presidency.
“As I’ve said before, the bipartisan COVID relief package passed in December is an important step, but just a downpayment,” Biden said in a speech announcing new Cabinet nominees.
“Next week, I will be laying out the groundwork for the next COVID economic relief package that meets this critical moment for our economy and country,” he added.
Biden outlined several provisions of the bill, which appear to line up with some of his campaign promises on coronavirus relief. Niv walks us through them here.
- The measure will include “billions of dollars” to improve the vaccine rollout, extending unemployment benefits set to expire in March and April, action on housing and sending out $2,000 stimulus checks.
- Biden said his relief package would also focus on investments regarding infrastructure and health care.
“The price tag will be high,” Biden said, but argued that investing in the economy now would pay off, and even help keep the debt under control. “If we don’t act now, things are going to get much worse, and it’ll be harder to get out of the hole later,” he added.
Budget backlash: The cost is likely to spark massive GOP opposition. Senate Republicans have raised concerns about the deficit in their push to keep COVID-19 relief spending in the hundreds of billions of dollars, whereas Democrats have backed spending that’s north of $3 trillion. But with control of the Senate, Democrats can attempt to pass a package through budget reconciliation, a process that would allow them to pass legislation with a simple majority, effectively sidelining GOP objections.
Democrats vow to deliver $2K checks with control of Senate: The Senate majority can also help Democrats send $2,000 direct checks to Americans.
Democrats are vowing to forge ahead with providing $2,000 stimulus payments after their party won control of the Senate this week with victories in two Georgia runoffs where the checks played a key role.
At a rally before Election Day, President-elect Joe Biden said that electing the two Democratic candidates would flip the majority, end a GOP blockade on bigger checks and allow for more coronavirus relief in the form of direct payments.
Now, Democrats say they plan to deliver on that pledge. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda tells us how.
GOOD TO KNOW
- White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE plans to remain in his role for the remainder of the Trump administration but plans to spend some of it on vacation.
- Business groups and lobbying firms were jolted this week with the surprise results of Georgia’s two runoff elections that tipped the balance of power in the Senate to Democrats.
- Stocks on Friday continued their unabated upward march, even as new data showed the economy shed jobs in December for the first time since April.
- Community-level financial institutions will get a head start on providing small-business relief loans in the latest iteration of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
- The IRS on Friday said that it is working with tax preparation companies to get stimulus payments to people whose money was sent to temporary bank accounts.
ODDS AND ENDS