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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Consumer spending fell by 1% in February as Americans were faced with extreme cold weather, the Department of Commerce said on Friday.

Why it matters: Consumer spending is a closely watched economic metric for businesses struggling to recover from weak sales due to the pandemic. Lockdowns, consumer fear over safety, and unemployment have all contributed to the weakness.

Details: The drop comes after consumer spending grew 2.4% in January following "a burst of stimulus-induced spending," according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Household income dropped by 7.1%.
  • Economists expected consumer spending to decrease by 0.7% in February, according to Reuters.

What to watch: Consumer spending is expected to bounce back as new stimulus checks continue to be distributed to Americans.

Go deeper

Mar 26, 2021 - Health

Public health spending has been stagnant for a decade

Expand chart
Data: Alfonso YN, US public health neglected: flat or declining spending left states ill equipped to respond to COVID-19; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Public health spending in most of the country stayed flat or declined in the decade following the Great Recession, "leaving states ill equipped to respond to COVID-19 and other emerging health needs," according to a new study published in Health Affairs.

By the numbers: The study found that public health spending dropped from $80.40 per capita in 2008 to $75.83 in 2018.

Mar 25, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Mall of America spent more than half a million dollars on lobbying last year

Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

Overall spending on lobbying in Minnesota was way down in 2020, but not for the Mall of America.

  • The Bloomington destination spent more than $500,000 to influence state and local policymakers last year, up from just $15,000 in 2019, according to a new lobbying disclosure.

Behind the numbers: The mall was seeking, among other changes, approval from lawmakers to use money from tax subsidy districts to offset pandemic financial troubles. That proposal didn't go anywhere.

What they're saying: MOA's press team said the increase in spending "was a direct result of receiving no [state or federal] financial assistance throughout the pandemic."

Of note: Spending by the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association, which is fighting the state's proposed Clean Cars regulations, and a coalition dedicated to passing ranked-choice voting also spiked in 2020.

  • Several other groups in the top 10 reported a decline in expenditures as the pandemic sidelined most policy last session.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.