On The Money: Slowing job growth may not be cause for alarm

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The May jobs report comes out tomorrow, and we’ll tell you what to expect. We’ll also look at how President Biden’s potential student debt relief could attempt to narrow the racial wealth gap, as well as the latest on aid for Ukraine. 

But first, see why NBA star LeBron James just made history. 

Welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Why a May jobs slowdown may not be bad for Biden

The May jobs report set to be released Friday morning will likely show employment growth slowed last month from the torrid pace the U.S. has seen since the start of the recovery from the coronavirus recession.  

But while a slowdown in jobs gains doesn’t often signal good news for a president suffering poor approval ratings amid high inflation—or his party—it may not be that bad for President Biden. 

“The big picture story here is that most evidence suggests that payroll growth is slowing, though it remains strong by normal cyclical standards,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Economics, in a Thursday preview. He’s expecting a gain of 250,000 jobs.  

“In any event, the 250K we expect for May payrolls is not a disaster, given that the trend before Covid was about 230K per month. But it does represent a clear slowdown from the recent trend.”  

Sylvan explains why here

BIDEN EYES RELIEF FOR BLACK BORROWERS

President Biden is reported to be closing in on a plan to cancel $10,000 in federal student debt per borrower, but some advocates are concerned about the impact it will have on Black borrowers, who data shows are likely to owe more to cover the costs of education. 

Many Democrats at the helm of student loan forgiveness efforts have promoted broad-based cancellation as a way to advance racial equity, often citing data showing the disproportionate burden faced by Black borrowers, especially women. 

But, as more reports surface of Biden’s plans narrowing in on a decision on some student debt forgiveness, advocates are dialing up the pressure.

A number of advocates and lawmakers say the White House should go as far as possible in cancellation to address the disproportionate amount of federal student debt carried by Black borrowers, pushing for total cancellation of the debt. The calls build upon a growing push by Democratic lawmakers calling for Biden to support more significant cancellation, including approving as high as $50,000 in loan forgiveness. The campaign adds pressure to Biden ahead of the pivotal midterm races in November, amid ongoing attacks from Republicans over the student loans push they say is unfair, and as some experts warn of the effects limited debt action could have on economic efforts to promote racial equity in the long run. 

Despite calls to go higher, reports that have surfaced in recent weeks signal the White House is most seriously looking at providing $10,000 in cancellation for some borrowers, in keeping with a previous campaign pledge by the president. 

“The impact that $10,000 would have would be so minor, that it wouldn’t really address the real issue for Black borrowers,” said Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP Youth & College Division. 

Aris has more here

UKRAINE AID UPDATE

Biden officials speak with Ukraine on latest military aid package 

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with their Ukrainian counterparts ahead of the Biden administration unveiling a $700 million weapons package for Ukraine this week. 

The call with Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president’s office, and Valerii Zaluzhny, commander in chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, came hours before President Biden unveiled the package on Wednesday. According to a readout from Ukraine, leaders also “discussed future arms supplies to our army.”

The latest package includes the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) — a long-range rocket system — and other munitions to help the Ukrainian military strike targets with greater accuracy inside Ukraine. In a separate readout of the call, Joint Staff spokesman Col. Dave Butler said the leaders “discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and international support for the Ukrainian armed forces.” The package is the first to dip into the presidential drawdown authority enacted by Congress last month as part of a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. 

Biden had previously ruled out sending rockets that could launch into Russian territory after it was reported that the administration would send the Multiple Launch Rocket System, which could strike targets up to 185 miles away. 

Read more here from The Hill’s Jordan Williams

OIL UP

OPEC+ announces 50 percent increase in oil output for July and August 

OPEC+ nations on Thursday agreed to increase oil output by about 50 percent for the next two months after initially standing by a 400,000-barrel release.  

Ministers announced the agreement to increase output in July and August to 648,000 barrels a day. 

Gas prices in the U.S. saw another spike heading into the Memorial Day holiday, while across the Atlantic, European Union members reached an agreement on banning Russian oil imports in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. As recently as earlier Thursday morning, U.S. prices hit another record average high of $4.71 a gallon. The move represents a reversal after the oil-producing nations had previously refused to budge on output, even after oil prices soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

The Hill’s Zack Budryk has the rundown here. 

Good to Know

House Republicans are launching a new energy and climate strategy as the party seeks to win over voters ahead of the midterm elections, though green groups have immediately criticized the plans as insufficient. 

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who leads the House GOP’s task force on energy, climate and conservation, told reporters Thursday that the plans being unveiled by the party are guided by affordability, emissions reduction and energy security.

Here’s what else we have our eye on: 

The Biden administration on Thursday announced more than $368 million in grants to improve rail infrastructure in states including Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida and Michigan. A coalition of more than 20 advocacy groups is urging Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to call a vote on a bipartisan antitrust bill that aims to limit tech giants from preferencing their own products and services over rivals.  The White House said Thursday that COVID-19 vaccinations for children under 5 could begin as soon as June 21, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the shots. Ransomware groups that have been sanctioned by the U.S. government are switching their tactics to evade sanctions and continue to receive ransom payments, according to a report released Thursday by cybersecurity firm Mandiant. A group of online marketplaces wrote a letter to several lawmakers in hopes of urging them to tweak the language of new China competition bills.  

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow. 

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