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Today’s Big Deal: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh discusses the so-called Great Resignation in an interview with The Hill and broad efforts the administration is taking to promote job growth.
We’ll also look at Democrats’ renewed push to revive President Biden’s stalled Build Back Better Act in wake of the party’s failed effort to pass voting rights legislation.
But first, did you see the recent discovery made by astronomers about how one blackhole helped aid the birth of stars?
Let’s get to it.
Biden Labor chief touts back-to-work push
President Biden’s Labor secretary on Friday brushed off concerns about the so-called Great Resignation while touting broad efforts to promote job growth in the second year of the Biden administration.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh maintained in a wide-ranging interview with The Hill that Americans “want to go to work,” even as the U.S. experiences a high quit rate and American workers gain new leverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the key of 2022 is going to be, honestly, focusing on getting people back to work,” Walsh said.
- Walsh stressed that upping the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination rate and getting past the pandemic will help alleviate workforce issues.
- He defended the Biden administration’s economic record, noting that more people joined the workforce in 2021 than any other time in the last 25 years.
- The secretary added that the U.S. needs to prioritize apprenticeships to fill jobs in construction, particularly when it comes to housing.
“I think we’re going to need additional housing in our country in the next five to 10 years, we’re going to have lots more development going on in our country,” he said, emphasizing the need for “workers at all different levels of construction.”
The background: U.S. employers have struggled for months to hire and retain workers. The unemployment rate dropped sharply to 3.9 percent last month as the U.S. added 199,000 jobs in December, well below economists’ expectations.
The Hill’s Alex Gangitano has the interview here.
WHAT JOE SAYS GOES
Democrats hope to salvage Biden’s agenda on Manchin’s terms
In the wake of a failed effort to pass voting rights legislation, Democrats are turning their attention back to reviving President Biden’s stalled Build Back Better Act, which hit a wall in December when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced he couldn’t support it.
Democratic lawmakers say they’re willing to concede more ground to Manchin in order to get something passed into law, even though it will fall well short of the ambitious vision they announced last year.
“I think we should tell Sen. Manchin, ‘You won, write the bill and tell us what you can support,’” said one Democratic senator, who requested anonymity to discuss party strategy. “That way he would stop dancing around.”
- Manchin on Thursday told reporters that he’s ready to rip up the Build Back Better Act. “We’re going to start with a clean sheet of paper and start over,” he said.
- Several Democrats say a lot of work has already been done on core elements of the bill and that much of it still can be salvaged.
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) cited compromise language to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and funding for universal pre-K as likely candidates to include in a final bill, along with a package of tax incentives and funding to address climate change.
The Hill’s Alex Bolton has more here.
CHIPS ARE COMING
Intel to build $20B Ohio factory amid chip shortage
Intel announced Friday it is investing $20 billion to build chip factories in Ohio amid a shortage of computer chips worldwide.
The “mega-site” will be constructed outside of Columbus on 1,000 acres of land in Licking County, according to a statement from Intel. Construction is expected to start near the end of 2022 and be completed in 2025.
The project will initially employ 7,000 construction jobs and 3,000 Intel jobs with thousands more long-term jobs expected in the future.
“Today’s investment marks another significant way Intel is leading the effort to restore U.S. semiconductor manufacturing leadership,” CEO of Intel Pat Gelsinger said.
Biden’s $15 minimum wage hike for federal agencies goes into effect
Federal agencies were directed to implement President Biden’s $15 an hour minimum wage for government workers on Friday.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a memo to heads of executive departments and agencies, which provides guidance for adjusting pay rates for employees to at least $15 per hour. The rule is set to take full effect on Jan. 30.
The higher wage will impact 70,000 workers from mainly the Defense Department, Department of Agriculture and Department of Veterans Affairs, according to OPM. The agency found that “the vast majority” of the 2.2 million federal workers already earn a pay rate of at least $15 per hour.
Good to Know
The news follows reports that Russia’s central bank is proposing a ban on cryptocurrencies in the nation, the world’s third-largest region for cryptocurrency mining.
Here’s what else have our eye on:
- Amazon and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, spent record sums on federal lobbying in 2021 as they fought legislation to limit their expansive market power.
- General Motors is investing $154 million to renovate a plant in New York that will create an estimated 230 more jobs in order to produce electric motor parts.
- Peloton shares plummeted Thursday after CNBC obtained documents stating the company is temporarily halting the production of its bikes and treadmills.
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 Monday.