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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

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
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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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Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.comnjagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @NJagoda and @NivElis.

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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.

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“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 BidenPutin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting How the infrastructure bill can help close the digital divide Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMeghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration I visited the border and the vice president should too Texas governor announces plan to build southern border wall 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 Pompeo Sunday shows preview: Infrastructure expected to dominate as talks continue to drag The triumph and tragedy of 1989: Why Tiananmen still matters Pence slams Biden agenda in New Hampshire speech MORE, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCommerce Department unit gathered intel on employees, census critics: report Former Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits 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

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as the president and vice president of the United States. 

Thursday:

 

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.