VA Secretary Nomination, Farm Bill, and Jobless Claims
May 18, 2018
Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to be nominated for role; the Farm Bill failed to pass the US House of Representatives; jobless claims total greater than expected; and the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, gained for the 6th straight month.
- Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to be nominated for role. President Trump announced that Robert Wilkie, acting director of the VA since Secretary Shulkin was fired, will become the permanent director, barring a problem with the nomination. Wilkie was the Undersecretary for personnel and readiness at the Department of Defense before joining the VA as acting Secretary. President Trump’s previous pick for the position, former Physician to the President Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination after numerous misconduct allegations.[Washington Post]
- The Farm Bill failed to pass the US House of Representatives. The $867 billion package was opposed by Democrats due to changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and some Republican conservatives. The Senate Bill currently being written does not include the changes to SNAP, and will need 60 votes, requiring some measure of bipartisanship. [Reuters]
Economic Indicators & News
- A composite index of economic indicators, the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, gained for the 6th straight month in April. It moved up 0.4% in April, 0.3% in March and 0.7% in February. The index is used to forecast global economic trends and take checks on the U.S. economy. The Conference Board, a business research association, determines a composite value based on 10 key metrics, including manufacturers’ new orders, stock prices and average weekly unemployment claims, to create the composite value.[CNBC]
- Jobless claims total 222,000, greater than expected. The number of Americans on unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest level since 1973. Many consider the labor market as close to or at full employment, with the jobless rate at 3.9%. [CNBC]