Finance

On The Money — Unemployment claims at lowest level since late 1960s

Getty Images

Happy Thursday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here.

Weekly unemployment claims are at their lowest level in more than five decades, according to new data, and the chair of a key House committee is pressing corporate America on its exodus from Russia.

For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Reach us at slane@thehill.comafolley@thehill.com and kevers@thehill.com.

Let’s get to it. 

 

Jobless claims fall to lowest level since 1969 

New weekly applications for jobless aid fell last week to the lowest seasonally adjusted level since September 1969, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. 

In the week ending March 19, initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 187,000, falling 28,000 from the previous week’s revised level.  

Last week’s total was the lowest since 182,000 Americans filed claims to start receiving jobless aid during the week of Sept. 6, 1969. 

The last time jobless claims were this low, Neil Armstrong’s footprints on the moon were less than two months old. 

The sharp dip in jobless claims is the latest signal of high demand for workers as businesses continue to face labor shortages and other hiring challenges. 

The U.S. has already added more than 1 million jobs in 2022 after adding 6.8 million last year, pushing the unemployment rate down 3.8 percent. 

Even so, businesses are still struggling to fill a record number of job openings from a labor force down millions of workers from its pre-pandemic size. 

Sylvan explains here. 

 

SLUGGISH EXIT

Multinationals find quickly exiting Russia isn’t so easy 

Hundreds of multinational companies are fleeing Russia following the nation’s violent invasion of Ukraine, but for some, fully exiting the country will be a complicated and lengthy process.  

Restaurant brands have to resolve contracts with local franchisees before they can cut ties with Russia. Banks must first find other financial institutions to take on their loans and bank accounts. Manufacturers, oil producers and others can’t find buyers for their Russian facilities due to severe Western sanctions. 

Several leading U.S. brands said they are beginning the process of cutting ties with Russia but warned that doing so will take time. 

Franchises like Burger King and KFC cannot legally close their restaurants in Russia because their Russian business partners refuse to do so. 

Citigroup, which has nearly $10 billion invested in Russia, cannot sell the business to Russian buyers under Western sanctions and it cannot wind down its operations without finding a new home for its existing customers, a complicated and lengthy process. 

Other massive companies, like Danish shipping giant Maersk, are trying to recover their physical investments amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to seize the assets of companies that flee the country. 

Karl explores the predicament here

 

Looking for receipts

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, is asking trade associations representing financial institutions and other companies to detail the steps their members are taking to sever ties with Russia. 

In a letter to more than 30 prominent corporate lobbying groups Thursday, Waters requested the names of companies that are continuing to do business in Russia and pressed them to explain why they haven’t exited the nation following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Waters also asked for details about how companies are divesting from Russia and complying with U.S. sanctions.  

The letter was addressed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the nation’s top corporate lobbying group — the American Bankers Association and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, among others. 

Waters also reached out to groups representing cryptocurrency exchanges, which unlike credit card companies are continuing to allow most Russians to use their services.  

Karl has more here

 

FOOD FIGHT

Biden warns of ‘real’ food shortage risk over Russia’s invasion into Ukraine 

President Biden warned Thursday that there could be global food shortages resulting from the Russia invasion of Ukraine and announced steps to prevent a potential crisis. 

“We did talk about food shortages. And it’s going to be real. The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia, it’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well,” Biden said at a press conference from Brussels, where he is meeting with NATO leaders.  

Both Russia and Ukraine are providers of wheat, though Biden pointed out that the U.S. and Canada are both major wheat producers, too. 

The U.S. and its allies, Biden said, are in the “process of working out” how to alleviate food shortage concerns amid rising inflation and lingering supply-chain issues. 

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano has more here.  

 

Good to Know

The Biden administration is sending mixed messaging to the oil and gas industry as it seeks to boost oil output while also keeping the industry at arm’s length.  

The administration has asked U.S. oil and gas producers to drill more as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed gasoline prices higher. But it has also taken a somewhat hostile tone, blaming the industry for not bringing prices down quickly enough.   

Here’s what else we have our eye on: 

  • The president and COO of Koch Industries defended the company’s decision to continue operations in Russia despite a mass-exodus of major companies from the country.  
  • French automaker Renault announced that it would halt operations in Moscow while assessing options on a majority stake in Avtovaz, Russia’s top carmaker, following criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  
  • Legislation to legalize marijuana at the federal level will be teed up for a House floor vote as soon as next week.  

 

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 tomorrow.

Tags Joe Biden Maxine Waters Vladimir Putin

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video