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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

The ADP private payrolls report showed U.S. employers cut 123,000 non-government jobs in December, the first net job loss since April.

Why it matters: There are still 10 million more unemployed Americans than there were in February and the report suggests a weak job climate could persist, despite recent relief efforts from Congress.

The big picture: Job gains have been slowing since May when the U.S. unexpectedly added 2.5 million jobs, and if Friday's numbers from the Labor Department follow the ADP report's direction the trajectory will have reversed the labor market's recovery in just eight months.

  • Economists had expected employers to add 340,000 private sector jobs last month.

The intrigue: The largest firms in the country (those with more than 1,000 employees) shed 169,000 positions.

Be smart: Big companies are flush with cash right now thanks to the Fed's massive market interventions in March that reopened credit markets and sent the cost of new debt back toward record lows.

  • The fact that large firms are cutting jobs, rather than hiring, points to the arrival of the new employment paradigm I wrote about in September wherein businesses are doing everything they can to ramp up productivity while also reducing costs, largely in the form of jobs and labor expenses.
  • Big corporations are now fighting for a “bigger piece of a smaller pie” thanks to the coronavirus pandemic's negative impact on household budgets, and are unable to raise prices meaningfully but also need to push forward with technology upgrades and investment to compete.

What to watch: The Fed noted in the minutes of its most recent meeting that "participants saw increased challenges for the economy in the coming months," due to surging COVID-19 cases and reduced spending, especially on services requiring in-person contact.

The last word: “America’s great jobs machine ran into a wall of rising coronavirus cases and state lockdowns which puts the entire economic recovery from recession at risk,” Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG, told Reuters.

  • “The heart of every recession is job losses and right now the decline in jobs at year end is hinting that the dark days of the labor market last spring have returned.”

Go deeper

Key company sales gauge recovers to pre-pandemic level

Manufacturing plant in New York last year. Photo: Noam Galai via Getty Images

A key sales gauge has recovered past its pre-pandemic level, according to a new quarterly survey of business conditions by the National Association for Business Economics.

Why it matters: It’s another sign of businesses bouncing back from the depths of the pandemic recession, even with soaring coronavirus cases and a full economic recovery still far off.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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