May 3, 2018

Steve Mnuchin's blind spot on U.S. jobs

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is unaware that many U.S. companies are having difficulties finding enough skilled workers to fill open positions, based on comments he made this week at the Milken Global Conference.

Reality check: Almost anywhere you look, companies of all types report sharp difficulty finding skilled workers. Dallas, Washington State, Shreveport, Prescott, wherever. They are turning to measures they have not taken in years — hiring teenagers and convicts, and paying big signing or moving bonuses.

  • One of the most demanded skills is cybersecurity technician. But there is also a dire shortage of construction workers and truckers. One problem is that companies are a lot less willing than they used to be to train workers so they *become* skilled.

Why it matters: The White House has been laser focused on growing the economy and cutting unemployment, while also proposing cuts to legal immigration. One obvious consequence of that strategy could be even further shortages of skilled labor, which is troubling if the current shortage isn't even acknowledged.

This also isn't the first time that Mnuchin has expressed an inexplicable blind spot when it comes to labor. This is from 2017:

The Treasury Department later walked back those comments, after they were met with incredulity by the tech community. But a Treasury spokesman did not respond to an Axios inquiry on his Milken Conference appearance.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 6,703,686 — Total deaths: 393,393 — Total recoveries — 2,906,748Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,885,197 — Total deaths: 108,708 — Total recoveries: 485,002 — Total tested: 18,680,529Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. States: Cities are retooling public transit to lure riders back.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.

Minneapolis will ban police chokeholds following George Floyd's death

A memorial for George Floyd at the site of his death in Minneapolis. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minneapolis has agreed to ban the use of police chokeholds and will require nearby officers to act to stop them in the wake of George Floyd's death, AP reports.

Why it matters: The agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which has launched an investigation into Floyd's death while in police custody, will be enforceable in court.