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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - February 6th, 2023

January Jobs Report Shows Massive Hiring Surge

Washington Update

President’s Budget Request

On Thursday, March 9, President Biden is expected to release his budget request for fiscal year 2024. Biden is expected to use the budget to highlight his support for the safety net, in sharp contrast to the GOP as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy works to manage calls for cuts to entitlement programs. In the budget plan, Biden intends to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, as well as lower costs for families, his top budget officials wrote in a memo today. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, a majority of Americans still rank economic conditions as poor or fair.

DOL Secretary

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is believed to be the leading candidate to be the next executive director of the NHL Players' Association, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. The NHLPA board met on Thursday, February 2, to further discuss its leadership search.

TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston reported Tuesday, January 31, in Insider Trading that some players from the NHLPA's executive board were meeting in person and via Zoom call during the NHL All-Star weekend in Florida, February 3-4, and at least one source suggested they might be at the point that they could be ready to present the winning candidate in their long search to replace current executive director Don Fehr. An executive board vote is required by the NHLPA to complete the process, with the approval of 18 of 32 board members needed to confirm the new leader.

Senate HELP Committee

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will hold its organizing meeting on Thursday, February 9, with new Chair Bernie Sanders (VT) taking over the gavel for Senator Patty Murray (WA) who left to head the Senate Appropriations Committee, and former Senator Richard Burr (NC) who retired. Senator Bill Cassidy (LA), a medical physician, will serve as top Republican on the committee.

On Thursday, February 2, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced its roster of members for the 118th Congress. Returning Democrats include: Senators Patty Murray (WA), Bob Casey (PA), Tammy Baldwin (Wi), Chris Murphy (CT), Tim Kaine(VA), Maggie Hassan (NH), Tina Smith (MN), Ben Ray Luján(NM), John Hickenlooper (CO). New to the committee is Senator Ed Markey (MA). The returning Republicans include: Senators Rand Paul (KY), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mike Braun (IN), Roger Marshall (KA), Mitt Romney (UT), Tommy Tuberville (AL). New Republicans on the committee are Senators Markwayne Mullin (OK) and Ted Budd (NC).

House Education and the Workforce Committee

On Tuesday, January 31, the House Education and the Workforce Committee adopted committee rules and announced new subcommittee leaders and members. There are only four subcommittees for this Congress, since there is no longer a Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee. Committee leadership includes: Chair Virginia Foxx (NC), Vice Chair Mary Miller (IL), ranking member Bobby Scott (VA), and vice ranking members Jahana Hayes (CT). Subcommittee leadership includes:

Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education: Chair Aaron Bean (FL) and ranking member Suzanne Bonamici (OR).

Higher Education and Workforce Development: Chair Burgess Owens (UT) and ranking member Frederica Wilson (FL).

Workforce Protections: Chair Kevin Kiley (CA) and ranking member Alma Adams (NC).

Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions: Chair Bob Good (VA) and ranking member Mark DeSaulnier (CA).

Additionally, the panel adopted committee rules including one on remote hearings. Foxx said there will be no remote hearings or markups this Congress saying that “the pandemic is over, it’s time to return to regular order.” She added that “the best debate and deliberation take place when we're able to interact face to face in real time. It is also far easier to maintain decorum and orderly procedures.” Additionally, remote witnesses are at Foxx’s discretion per the House rules package. Scott said he hoped Foxx would work with committee Democrats on witness requests. He said not allowing witnesses to testify remotely would have an “adverse effect,” adding that the committee has “heard from a diverse set of witnesses from across the country [and] it isn't hard to imagine the voices we silenced by not allowing remote testimony.”

The Committee adopted a plan for “aggressive oversight” of various agencies and programs, including: the Departments of Education, Labor, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. Foxx has stated oversight is a major priority this Congress. Some of the priorities outlined in the plan include accountability and investigations on federal student loan programs, FSA, campus free speech, Covid-19 relief funds, child nutrition and Title IX implementation.

Senate Appropriations Committee

On Thursday, February 2, Senators Patty Murray (WA) and Susan Collins (ME) issued a joint statement as they officially assume the roles of Senate Appropriations Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. In the statement, they promised to markup and bring spending bills to the floor “in a timely way” and maintain the practice of earmarks “so senators can support the needs and projects of their states.”

Click here to read the joint statement.

Unemployment Rate

On Friday, February 3, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the January jobs report, which showed that the U.S. economy added 517,000 jobs last month - more than doubling expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent, the lowest level since 1969. Analysts expected it to tick up to 3.6%. Revisions by the Department of Labor showed the economy added a half million more jobs in 2022 than previously recorded.

Despite the decline in unemployment, which traditionally has been thought to mean inflation rises, economists are seeing inflation decline. The consumer price index (CPI) has dropped to 6.5 percent annually off a high of 9.1 percent last June. The personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE) has similarly fallen to 5 percent annually from 6.8 percent last year. While high levels of employment may not be contributing to lower price levels, moderation in wage growth may be helping to bring inflation down. The report showed that over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.4 percent, down from 4.6 percent as measured last month - the slowest rate since July 2021.

Record-high employment paired with tapering wage growth and labor costs is a double-edged sword for the Federal Reserve, which has been raising interest rates since last March in response to rising inflation - having hiked rates eight times in a row since last year. The January report could be a sign to the Fed that more rate hikes are needed and could even mean a return to higher rate hikes. The January report shows a stronger than expected job market and abates recession fears.

Click here to access the report.

Click here to read Secretary Walsh’s statement on the January jobs report.

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