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On The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch

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THE BIG DEAL—Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million: The number of open jobs in the U.S. reached a record high of 8.1 million in March, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.

  • Job openings rose by 597,000 in March, an increase of 5.3 percent, to the highest level since the Labor Department began tracking the data in December 2000. 
  • The largest gains came in leisure and hospitality (185,000), public education (155,000) and arts, entertainment and recreation (81,000).
  • The number of hires stayed even at roughly 6 million in March, a month when the U.S. added 770,000 jobs, according to revised totals from the April employment report. Layoffs also declined to a record low of 1.5 million in March.

What it means: The data is the latest window into how U.S. businesses are rushing to meet a surge of demand and get ahead of a post-pandemic boom. 

  • While the U.S. is still down roughly 9 million jobs after losing more than 21 million during the onset of the pandemic, firms across the country have reported difficulty finding workers to come back.
  • Republican lawmakers and some right-leaning economists have blamed enhanced unemployment benefits for keeping workers on the sidelines, and the surge in openings is likely to fuel their concern.

The battle over unemployment aid: Most economists say jobless aid is far from the only factor keeping potential workers home with just less than 50 percent of U.S. adults still unvaccinated and many schools and daycare centers still partially closed. But a growing number of Republican governors are pulling their states out of pandemic jobless aid programs in response to labor shortages.

  • Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced on Tuesday that the state will end its participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment programs, including a $300 additional weekly benefit extended in the last COVID-19 relief measure.
  • Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler (R) is considering ending the pandemic unemployment benefits The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
  • And Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Tuesday announced that his state would be withdrawing from the federal $300-per-week unemployment supplement.

The increasing GOP pullback from federal unemployment programs has alarmed some of the staunchest Democratic supporters of the aid.

“The Labor Department must explore all options to keep these workers from losing their income. Mothers without child care are not going to be back on the job in just a few weeks’ time, and they shouldn’t face financial ruin for living in states run by Republicans,” said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Green future needs to be built with union jobs and prevailing wage Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a ‘big mistake’ MORE (D-Ore.).

LEADING THE DAY

Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a ‘big mistake’: Speaking of Wyden, he sat down for an interview with The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda and made some news on one of the key issues involving Biden’s infrastructure plan.

Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he thinks it would be a “big mistake” to pay for an infrastructure package through a gas tax increase instead of through raising taxes on corporations.

“It just seems to be a big mistake to go there when corporate [tax] revenue is down something like 40 percent in the last few years,” Wyden said.

The background: Wyden’s comments come as Congress and the White House are debating the size and scope of infrastructure legislation, as well as how to pay for such a measure. 

As chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over taxes, Wyden will play a key role in crafting the financing portion of an infrastructure package.

Naomi Jagoda breaks it all down here.

Airlines start to feel Colonial Pipeline pinch: Fuel supply shortages from the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack are hitting airlines at a time when the industry is just beginning to emerge from the coronavirus recession.

  • The 5,500-mile pipeline services seven airports in the eastern part of the country, prompting some carriers to alter routes as a way to maintain access to jet fuel.
  • While Colonial is optimistic that its operations will return to normal later this week, an extended disruption could force airlines to consider passing the added costs along to passengers in the form of higher airfares heading into the summer travel season.

“Fuel purchases typically represent the most significant expenses for commercial airlines,” said Kevin Kennedy, an analyst with IBISWorld, a market research firm. “A prolonged disruption of the fuel supply will undoubtedly affect profitability.” The Hill’s Alex Gangitano tells us more here.

ON TAP TOMORROW:

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Virtual marketplace company eBay announced Tuesday that nonfungible tokens (NFTs) would be allowed to be sold on the platform.
  • A judge on Tuesday dismissed the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) bankruptcy case, ruling that the organization cannot use the bankruptcy code to relocate from New York, where it faces a lawsuit, to Texas, a more gun-friendly state.





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