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Expand chart
Data: BLS; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

While sentiment indicators have been split, the jobs data and reports from businesses are painting a clear picture of the U.S. manufacturing industry's stress.

What they're saying: Timothy Fiore, chairman of the ISM survey committee, which tracks the sector through its purchasing managers index, said his report may be underestimating the damage. (His company's latest report showed manufacturing contracting for the fourth straight month.)

  • "I think a lot the [layoffs] are flying under the radar — no one wants to impact consumer sentiment, no one wants to announce cuts around Christmas," Fiore told Barron's last month.
  • "People are dropping shifts, canceling overtime, sending temporary workers home."
Expand chart
Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: The Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book, which tracks businesses around the country, has a recurring theme.

  • "Several retailers reported that tariffs were raising costs and hurting profit margins," the Fed's Richmond office reported.
  • "Uncertainty generally remained elevated, driven by trade tensions, the political climate, and weaker global growth," the Dallas Fed noted.
  • "Business contacts in retail and manufacturing reported facing increased price pressures due to tariffs," the St. Louis Fed found.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.