Policy

On The Money — Jobless rate rose in August, but that may be good

We break down the August jobs report and why the best part of it had nothing to do with the topline employment gain. We’ll also look at another funding request for Ukraine aid and a price cap on Russian oil. 

But first, make sure your dried mushrooms don’t have salmonella

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane and Aris Folley Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Programming note: On The Money will not be publishing on Monday in observance of Labor Day. We’ll be back Tuesday!

315K jobs added in August, unemployment ticks up

Job growth slowed slightly in August but remained well above pre-pandemic levels as steady consumer spending powered another strong month of hiring. 

  • The U.S. added 315,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department, up from 3.5 percent in August. 
  • Economists expected the U.S. to gain roughly 300,000 jobs last month without the unemployment rate budging, according to consensus estimates.  
  • While the unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage points, the labor force participation rate also rose by 0.3 percentage points, to 62.4 percent. 

The context: Rising unemployment and slowing job gains are rarely good news for an economy. But the August jobs report showed the economy moving toward ample job growth and lower inflation. 

  • Some economists and policymakers have been concerned that the national labor shortage could be fueling high inflation by forcing businesses to boost wages and prices quickly.  
  • As the size of the workforce increases, businesses may have an easier time finding workers without having to raise wages at rapid rates. That could also help businesses keep their prices stable and sap momentum from inflation. 

“The best news in this jobs report is that the unemployment rate went up. It did so for all the right reasons: people are coming back to the labor force. And so despite stiff headwinds—inflation, rising interest rates, a strong dollar—employers are finding it a little bit easier to hire,” wrote Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, in a Friday analysis. 

Sylvan has more here. 

LEADING THE DAY

White House asks Congress for $13.7B in Ukraine-related funding 

The White House on Friday asked Congress to approve $13.7 billion to address Russia’s continued military invasion of Ukraine as part of a short-term funding bill.   

The Biden administration is requesting that Congress authorize $11.7 billion in additional security and economic assistance for Ukraine and $2 billion to help shore up domestic energy supplies to offset impacts of the war on the global energy market.   

  • The White House says that the funds are needed to sustain the pace of aid to Ukraine for the first three months of fiscal 2023, which begins at the start of October. The administration official said roughly three-fourths of the funds Congress has already approved for Ukraine have been spent or obligated. 
  • Congress on a bipartisan basis has approved over $53 billion in security, economic and humanitarian assistance to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year. Biden signed the last package, totaling $40 billion, into law in May. At the time, the White House said it expected those funds to last through the end of the fiscal year. 
  • In addition to more funding for Ukraine, the White House is also asking Congress to authorize billions more in funding for the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response, monkeypox response and disaster relief
    efforts as part of a continuing resolution. The emergency funding request totals $47.1 billion. 

The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant breaks it down here

RUSSIAN OIL

G-7 agrees to price cap on Russian oil 

The G7 agreed to a price cap on Russian oil Friday as Russia shut a major gas pipeline to Europe, citing maintenance issues, amid the already fraught European energy situation. 

The countries agreed that they would prohibit “services which enable maritime transportation,” like shipping, of oil from Russia if it’s sold at a price higher than the price cap — an attempt to curb Russian profits from the sale of the fuel. 

  • A Kremlin official said in response to plans of the price cap on Friday that Russia would not sell to any countries that participated in the price cap, rejecting any non-market principles associated with the sale of its energy products, Reuters reported. 
  • Russia is the third-largest oil producer in the world. Some countries, including the U.S., have already said they will not import Russian oil, but other countries including China and India have continued to provide a market for this oil. 

The Hill’s Tobias Burns and Rachel Frazin have the details here

CAN I GET A WITNESS?

The witnesses missing from tax hearings: average taxpayers 

As Congress raced to pass long-stalled health, climate and tax legislation this summer, Democrats advanced the country’s latest update to U.S. tax laws, giving the IRS $15 million to design a free “e-file” tax return system. 

However, over the course of several months working on the legislation, on no occasions were working Americans asked in hearings before the main tax writing and tax collection oversight committees in Congress to describe or comment on the personal administrative work of filing their yearly taxes. 

Instead of hearing from working taxpayers who file their own forms, the congressional panels heard from certified public accountants (CPAs), a business executive, a watchdog agency member and a “taxpayer experience” officer, among other specialists. 

Tobias has more here.

Good to Know

President Biden on Friday announced plans to nominate environmental law expert Richard Revesz to lead the small but powerful White House office in charge of overseeing federal regulations.   

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which sits within the White House Office of Management and Budget, has been without a permanent occupant since Biden took office.   

Here’s what else have our eye on: 

  • The “cheapest time” to book flight is a myth, Google Flights says. Here’s what to do instead. 
  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Thursday recommended that tech giant Amazon’s objections to votes by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) be blocked. 

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week. 

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