On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for $15 minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico’s handling of energy permits
Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.
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THE BIG DEAL—December retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy: December retail sales fell 0.7 percent, adding to the growing list of data points showing the economic recovery stalling or even slipping into reverse.
- Economists had expected sales to be flat through the holiday season.
- The figure for November’s sales was also revised downward to a 1.4 percent drop, down from an earlier estimate of 1.1 percent.
With COVID-19 spreading in new and unprecedented levels across the country, economic indicators have pointed to a worrisome backslide. The country saw a net drop of 140,000 jobs in December, the first month of job loss since the early days of the pandemic.
More losses are likely in January after last week’s initial jobless claims climbed to 965,000, the highest level since August. The Hill’s Niv Elis has more here.
LEADING THE DAY
Fast-food workers nationwide strike for $15 minimum wage: Fast-food workers in 15 cities around the country planned to walk out Friday in a strike for the federal government to increase the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Fast-food workers are going on strike January 15, on what would be MLK’s 92nd birthday, to demand $15/hr and the right to a union! Workers will not back down until everyone makes at least $15!” Fight for $15 tweeted.
The group, which is backed by the Service Employees International Union, has a petition on its website urging President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenConfirmation hearing for Biden’s DNI pick postponed Biden’s Sunday inauguration rehearsal postponed due to security concerns: report Murkowski says it would be ‘appropriate’ to bar Trump from holding office again MORE and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden calls for swift action while outlining .9 trillion virus relief package Porter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump’s growing isolation as administration comes to an end MORE to prioritize minimum wage in their first 100 days in office.
The Hill’s Lexi Lonas breaks it down here.
US officials raise concerns over Mexico’s handling of energy permits: U.S. officials are expressing concerns about Mexico’s handling of energy permits, raising allegations of preferential treatment for state-owned energy companies.
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoVoice of America journalists demand director’s resignation over Pompeo event UN officials: Houthis terror designation is ‘death sentence’ for Yemen civilians The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump impeached again; now what? MORE, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCensus Bureau racing to complete noncitizen data, watchdog says Trump administration misses census data deadline, eyes March handover to Congress Biden selects Gina Raimondo for Commerce chief: reports MORE wrote in a letter this week to Mexican officials that they were concerned by reports of “regulators who were allegedly instructed to block permits for private sector energy projects and to exercise their regulatory authority to favor state owned energy companies.”
“If true, this would be deeply troubling and raise concerns regarding Mexico’s commitments under the [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement],” the Trump administration officials added.
They also wrote that this could “adversely affect hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. government public energy investments in Mexico.”
The Hill’s Rachel Frazin tells us more here.
ON TAP NEXT WEEK
- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as the president and vice president of the United States.
NEXT WEEK’S NEWS, NOW: The headline of Wednesday will be the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, but be on the lookout for some turnover at financial regulatory agencies before and after the start of the Biden administration.
- Biden is expected to fire Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger—if she doesn’t resign first—and appoint an acting CFPB director until a full-time nominee is confirmed.
- Biden will also be able to appoint a new acting comptroller of the currency and new acting chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We’ll also get our first sense of how Yellen will be greeted by Senate Republicans during her confirmation hearing Tuesday. Yellen has been widely praised by Democrats and a handful of Republicans, so her confirmation appears to be safe barring an unforeseen bombshell.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Trader Joe’s and Instacart are the latest businesses to announce that they will be giving their employees extra pay for getting the coronavirus vaccine.
- Tax filing season, which normally starts at the end of January, will begin on Feb. 12 this year, the IRS announced Friday.