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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The U.S. economy added 225,000 new jobs last month and more workers came into the labor force. But data showed wages again failed to rise meaningfully, and there's reason to worry that its growth may have peaked at this relatively low level.
What's happening: Average hourly earnings grew by 3.1% over the last 12 months, according to the January jobs report, and have stayed within the narrow range of 2.9% to 3.2% for much of the past year and a half.
By the numbers: The BLS employment cost index rose just 0.7% in the fourth quarter, with the increase in wages and benefits slowing to 2.7%, down from 2.9% in 2018. Other measures of pay and benefits also signal that the wage growth is plateauing or going in reverse.
Why it matters: "Over the last 40 years, wage growth for typical American workers has been extraordinarily weak," researchers from the Brookings Institution noted in a recent paper.
What's next: Policymakers have begun to refocus their attention on wage growth, but few concrete proposals have surfaced for how to achieve that goal.
The global death toll from the coronavirus outbreak reached 910, with 3,062 cases identified Sunday, as the head of the World Health Organization voiced concern over the spread of the disease from people with no travel history to China. (Bloomberg)
Chinese authorities denied a report from Nikkei that they had blocked Apple supplier Foxconn from restarting work at plants in China because of a "high risk of coronavirus infection" at the facilities. (Reuters)
L Brands is closing in on a deal to sell Victoria’s Secret to private equity firm Sycamore Partners that could be announced next week. (CNBC)
President Trump is expected to double down on big spending and tax cuts when he releases his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 later today.
The big picture: The budget proposes increases in defense spending and other categories and also assumes the annual budget deficit will fall from more than $1 trillion in 2020 to around $200 billion, largely as a result of increased U.S. growth.
Between the lines: Trump's budget also proposes to cut spending by $4.4 trillion over the next 10 years. Of that, it targets $2 trillion from mandatory spending programs, which would require action from Congress.
Reality check: Presidential budget proposals rarely, if ever, reflect actual spending. However, the proposal does provide insight into the Trump administration's policy priorities.
What they're saying: Vice President Mike Pence suggested in a Friday interview with CNBC that the debt and deficits are not a primary focus of the administration.
North American rail traffic continued to decline in January, with U.S. rail carloads dropping by 5.9%, or 73,110 carloads, year over year, according to the latest report from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Why it matters: The report suggests that improved sentiment from the U.S.-China phase one trade deal and apparent Brexit resolution has yet to make its way to the bottom line. Railroads continue to see declining numbers despite the pickup in global manufacturing reports.
Yes, but: Excluding coal and grain, U.S. carloads were down just 0.6% in January, which was the smallest decline in a year.
The average rates for 15- and 30-year fixed mortgage fell for the third straight week last week, touching their lowest levels in three years, per new data from mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
Why it matters: Lower interest rates tend to increase housing prices and reduce housing supply, both of which are already issues for the broader market, as I wrote on Friday.
Sir William Arthur Lewis was an economist who created the "dual-sector model" detailing how growth differed in rich and poor economies. His theory became the backbone of international development economics.