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.
THE BIG DEAL–Economy adds 136K jobs in September as unemployment hits 50-year low: The U.S. added 136,000 jobs in September, the Labor Department reported Friday, slightly missing economists’ expectations but dragging the unemployment rate to its lowest level since December 1969.
In a nutshell: The September jobs report was highly anticipated after industrial output, consumer confidence, and several long-term projections of economic growth fell in September. But the report did little to change the picture of a slowing, yet resilient U.S. economy.
- The unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent from 3.7 percent while the labor force participation rate held even at 62.3 percent.
- The August total job gain was revised up to 168,000 from an initially reported 130,000, while July’s gain was revised up to 166,000 from a previous estimate of 159,000 new hires.
- Despite the drop in unemployment, the September jobs report fell short of projections that the U.S. would add roughly 145,000 new workers last month.
- The average monthly jobs gain has sunk sharply from 223,000 in 2018 to 161,000 in 2019, though it remains above the roughly 100,000 new workers needed to keep the unemployment rate from rising.
- Wage growth also slumped to an annualized gain of 2.9 percent despite unemployment near-record lows, which should theoretically drive wages higher.
LEADING THE DAY
Treasury IG to probe handling of Trump tax returns: The Treasury Department inspector general’s (IG) office is investigating the department’s handling and rejection of House Democrats’ request for President Trump‘s tax returns.
The Treasury Office of Inspector General said Friday it is undertaking an inquiry requested by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.).
“Chairman Neal has asked Treasury OIG to inquire into the process by which the Department received, evaluated, and responded to the Committee’s request for federal tax information,” Treasury acting Inspector General Rich Delmar said in a statement. “We are undertaking that inquiry.”
In a letter Neal sent to the IG on Monday, the chairman said that he wants to be sure that Treasury and the IRS are “enforcing the law in a fair and impartial manner and no one is endeavoring to intimidate or impede government officials and employees carrying out their duties.”
The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda explains here.
Background: Neal in April requested six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns from the IRS, citing the committee’s interest in oversight and in legislation about how the IRS enforces tax laws against a president. The Treasury Department rejected Neal’s request and subsequent subpoenas, leading to Ways and Means to file suit against the department and the IRS.
The Committee revealed in court documents in August that a federal employee had reached out with credible allegations of possible attempts to influence the IRS’s program for mandatory audits of presidents and vice presidents.
Trade deficit rises to $54.9B in August: The U.S. trade deficit grew to $54.9 billion in August, a 1.6 percent increase from July, and a spike over last year.
When compared to the same period last year, the overall trade deficit was up $28.3 billion, or 7.1 percent, as exports dropped slightly and imports spiked.
Analysts point to President Trump’s trade war as a factor in the increased deficit, though the strong dollar and the growing budget deficit are major factors as well. The Hill’s Niv Elis breaks it down here.
House committee pressing Zuckerberg to testify on digital currency Libra: The House Financial Services Committee is turning up the heat as lawmakers push Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify publicly about the company’s plans to launch a new digital currency this year.
The committee has told Facebook that it is not enough for the company’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg — Facebook’s No. 2 in command — to testify on Oct. 29. Lawmakers, led by Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), are insisting the committee will not confirm Sandberg’s October hearing until Zuckerberg also agrees to testify before January 2020, a congressional source told The Hill.
“The October hearing with Sandberg is not confirmed until Zuckerberg confirms that he will appear before the committee,” the source said. “The chairwoman has called for him to testify by January.”
The Hill’s Emily Birnbaum tells us the backstory here.
Lots of questions: For months, Waters has said publicly that she is planning to haul Zuckerberg before the committee to testify about his company’s new digital currency project Libra.
But Zuckerberg won’t just be asked to testify on Libra. Other issues the committee has jurisdiction over include data privacy and whether the platform’s online advertising system enables housing, employment or credit discrimination.
GOOD TO KNOW
- President Trump said Friday that he would keep issues related to former Vice President Joe Biden “separate” from trade discussions with China while defending his public urgings to have foreign countries investigate his political rival’s family for unsubstantiated corruption allegations..
- …But White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Friday declined to say whether he’s ever raised investigating Joe Biden during trade talks with Chinese officials.
- More than 140 companies and 18 major business associations have signed onto an amicus brief Friday in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ahead of a Supreme Court hearing next month on President Trump’s move to terminate it.
ODDS AND ENDS
- The Trump administration unveiled a fuel proposal Friday that would buoy corn farmers and ethanol producers to the detriment of the nation’s oil industry.
- A new California law that will allow collegiate athletes to profit from the use of their name or images has fueled a rush of new legislation in other states that hope to allow their own athletes to make money while still in college.
Recap the week On The Money:
- Monday: Impeachment fight poses wildcard for Trump economy | Court fights over Trump tax returns ramp up | Judge tosses lawsuit over Trump tax law deduction cap
- Tuesday: Trump blames Fed as manufacturing falters | US to join Trump lawsuit over NY subpoena for tax returns | Ex-Rep. Chris Collins pleads guilty in insider trading case
- Wednesday: Trump blames impeachment inquiry for stock market drop | Trump to hit EU with new tariffs after WTO ruling | Warren outlines tax on federal lobbying