The shutdown isn’t just hurting workers. The entire U.S. economy is faltering

The longer the shutdown continues — it’s entering its fifth week, with no end in sight — the tougher it is for the roughly 800,000 unpaid federal workers and an estimated half a million unpaid federal contractors to make ends meet. Yet those of us who are still collecting wages in the private sector are being hurt too, and to a much greater extent than the Trump administration had previously acknowledged.

This week, Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers estimated that the partial government shutdown was slowing the U.S. economy by about one-eighth of 1% per week. That may not sound like much, but the debilitating effect is twice as great as the White House had previously suggested. Economists had projected growth to be anemic in the first quarter of 2019 even without a shutdown; if the impasse continues for another month or so, the economy could actually start to contract.

Los Angeles Times

State employees’ salaries lag private sector by 14 percent

A new report shows salaries for Virginia state employees lag private-sector counterparts by an average of 14 percent.

A report by the Department of Human Resource Management says the average applied to 47 different types of state jobs compared to the national average for comparable jobs in the private sector.

State marketing and public relations specialists had the biggest wage gap, making 36.5 percent less than private sector workers with similar jobs.

The report compared salaries, not other benefits that state employees may receive like pensions.

Kentucky.com

Marco Rubio seeks easier transition for veterans into STEM-related jobs

A new bill filed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio could soon help veterans re-entering the workforce get jobs in STEM-related fields.

If passed, the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act (S 153) will require the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate programs to train and transition military veterans for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Our veterans did not hesitate to answer the call to protect our great nation, and we must do everything we can to ensure that they have the skills and opportunities they need to successfully transition into the 21st century workforce,” Rubio said. “Our bill will help to identify the barriers to entry for veterans and support veterans pursuing careers in STEM.”

Florida’s senior U.S. Senator shared the news first with Florida Politics.

FloridaPolitics.com

Is Trump Trying To Politicize Agricultural Data? Some Former USDA Officials Suspect Yes.

What proportion of U.S. fossil fuel consumption is attributable to our food system? How much are farmers earning from their crops? What percentage of American households have enough food to healthfully feed their members? How would various trade policies affect U.S. agriculture?

When policymakers and other interested parties need answers to these questions, they turn to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. However, ERS is at the center of a heated debate as the USDA moves to reorganize the agency and relocate it outside of Washington, D.C. The USDA says the plan will save money and improve the agency’s ability to serve its stakeholders. Critics, including at least 56 former USDA and federal statistical agency officials, say the plan undermines the agency’s ability to carry out its mission and threatens its independent status.

FiveThirtyEight.com

China offers 6-year import boost in trade talks with US: Sources

China has offered a six-year boost in imports during its ongoing talks with the U.S., officials familiar with the matter told CNBC.

Chinese officials made the offer during negotiations in Beijing earlier in January, Bloomberg News reported. China would increase its annual import of U.S. goods by a combined value of over $1 trillion, the officials told Bloomberg, which was first to report on the import boost offer.

China pegged its proposal to buy more U.S. goods through 2024 to President Donald Trump’s hopes of being re-elected in 2020, the sources told CNBC.

CNBC

Oil spikes to 6-week high after China offers to slash US trade imbalance

Oil prices sharply extended gains, rising with the stock market, on news that Beijing has put forward a plan to eliminate its trade surplus with the United States.

The plan would see China ramp up purchases of U.S. goods over the next six years with the goal of reducing its $323 billion trade surplus last year to zero by 2024. President Donald Trump has highlighted the U.S. trade deficit with foreign countries, and the offer could appeal to the protectionist commander-in-chief.

However, U.S. trade negotiators — who aim to address issues like barriers to accessing the Chinese markets and China’s alleged theft of intellectual property — are skeptical of Beijing’s offer, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

CNBC

Dow jumps 250 points after China offers a way to eliminate US trade imbalance

Stocks rose on Friday as investors cheered potential progress in trade negotiations between China and the U.S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 256 points, led by gains in Chevron and Boeing. The S&P 500 climbed 1.2 percent, trading out of correction territory, as the energy and industrials sectors outperformed. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.2 percent.

The major averages jumped to their highs of the day after sources told CNBC that China had offered a six-year increase in U.S. imports during recent trade talks. Bloomberg News reported on Friday that the deal would aim to reduce the annual U.S. deficit to zero by 2024.

CNBC

How the Partisan Gap Over Clean Energy Has Narrowed

For years, polls have shown that conservatives of all stripes love renewable energy.

The national political narrative still tends to divide parties on the issue, but they’re mostly in lockstep with each other locally. Clean energy is a winning issue.

This week on The Interchange, we profile Bob Steinburg, a Republican North Carolina state senator who won a heated primary campaign last year after getting attacked for his stance on clean energy. Senator Steinburg believes his embrace of renewables helped him with conservative voters.

GreenTechMedia.com

How Would A Green New Deal Work?

A Green New Deal is the idea of an economy based on renewable energy, green jobs, and other policies that combat climate change. The idea was recently proposed by newly elected Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; former President Obama put out a stimulus plan (in year) that included elements of a Green New Deal.

But the term was first coined over a decade ago by the journalist Thomas Friedman. Friedman talks about what possible green proposals could entail and what obstacles it might face.

ScienceFriday.com

Some of the Biggest Green Groups Have Cold Feet Over the “Green New Deal”

By now, every member of Congress should have received a very long letter about the Green New Deal. Sent by 626 environmental groups on Thursday, the letter calls on lawmakers to support the idea, popularized by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of a sweeping economic stimulus package to fight global warming.

Thursday’s letter addresses one of the most common criticisms of the Green New Deal: that no one can agree about what should be in it. These 626 environmental groups, including Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity, and 350, say a Green New Deal should include an expansion of the Clean Air Act; a ban on crude oil exports; an end to fossil fuel subsidies and fossil fuel leasing; and a phase-out of all gas-powered vehicles by 2040, among many other things.

The New Republic