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Mariupol Evacuation Efforts Continue; Strong Jobs Report. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 13:00   ET




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Thanks for joining us today. We will see you here on Monday. Hope you have a peaceful weekend.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, and happy Friday. Thanks for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Any minute now, President Biden will arrive in Ohio to deliver a crucial message on the economy on the heels of another strong jobs report. Before the trip, the president celebrated the report, saying it's proof his policies have fueled -- quote -- "the strongest job creation economy in modern times" -- 428,000 jobs were added to the labor market in April.

That's slightly more than projected. That is the 12th straight month now the nation has added at least 400,000 positions. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6 percent. So the good news here, impressive job growth and wages are still on the rise.

The bad news, stubborn inflation. Prices are up more than wages, and that is leading to a lot of dread about where the U.S. economy is headed. The latest CNN poll found 77 percent of Americans say economic conditions are poor. That is the worst outlook in a decade.

So we will be listening for how the president tries to assuage economic fears and frustrations, which could be pivotal in the midterms.

Let's go to CNN's Matt Egan in Washington.

And, Matt, first, just give us the full breakdown of the April numbers.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Ana, the jobs market remains strong, another 428,000 jobs added in April. The expectation had been that job growth would slow down to the weakest pace in a year. That did not happen.

In fact, over just this year, we have 2.1 million jobs that have been added to the labor market. That is very impressive growth, given the fact that there's the shortage of workers. And we saw broad-based hiring. Jobs were added in leisure and hospitality, in transportation, manufacturing.

The unemployment rate steady at 3.6 percent, that is very low historically. We forget that, just two years ago, the inflation -- the unemployment rate was at nearly 15 percent as COVID was running wild. It has come down dramatically.

If anything, though, the concern is that the jobs market and the economy are overheating, that the Federal Reserve is going to have to raise interest rates so much that it really slows down the economy and even threatens an eventual recession. And I don't think anything about today's report, Ana, is going to ease those concerns about an overheating jobs market.

CABRERA: So we keep hearing the jobs market needs to cool off, as you were just discussing. It does seem counterintuitive, though, Matt.

Explain why robust jobs gains and the rising wages can actually be a problem.

EGAN: Well, I think, just like sleep or exercise, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

I mean, it's great that wages are growing, up 5.5 percent over the last 12 months. That is growth that the Obama White House would have killed for during the slow, but steady recovery from the Great Recession. But the concern is that wages could be going up at an unsustainable rate and that high wages cause high inflation, which causes people to demand higher wages.

It can become a vicious cycle. And so that's what the Federal Reserve is worried about. And that's why the Fed is concerned that the jobs market is overly tight. It's tight to an unhealthy degree. Now, the concern is that the Fed is going to have to not just tap the brakes on the economy, but they're going to have to really slam the brakes on the economy to get inflation under control.

Some economists that I talk to think that the unemployment rate may actually have to increase. And history shows that, when the unemployment rate goes up, it typically leads to a full-fledged recession down the line.

CABRERA: OK, so the old chicken and the egg analogy popped in my head as you were talking about the cycle of wages rising, prices rising, so wages rising, and then prices falling as well.

Matt, stay with us here.

I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent John Harwood -- he's traveling with the president today -- and "Washington Post" personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary. She's the author of "What To Do With Your Money When Crisis Hits: A Survival Guide."

It's great to have all of you as part of this discussion this Friday.

Let's talk about the way the job market has trended during the Biden administration, Michelle. Millions more Americans are working, and with bigger paychecks. Is inflation simply canceling out the gains?


Now, remember, they were already behind by the time that these wages started to catch up with what's happening to the economy. So they're making more, except they have got to put out more from that paycheck for gas and groceries. If you need to get a car, it's going to cost you 20, 30 or 40 percent more. If you want to buy a house, it's going to cost you more because the mortgage rates are going up.

And so at the same time you're getting $10, but you got to pay $12 out of that paycheck. So you're negative gain with that pay increase.


John, how does President Biden then plan to thread this needle on his message today? The White House sees another good number with the jobs report, but so many Americans seem to be struggling. And they see doom and gloom.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think he -- we got a hit of it this morning in the statement that President Biden put out after those jobs numbers came.

As Matt indicated, it's a good news/bad news situation. He claimed credit for this robust jobs growth, very strong jobs growth. He has -- can take some credit for that because of the size of the American Rescue Plan that was enacted last year, said there's more work to do on inflation. He bears some responsibility on inflation for that very reason, because the American Rescue Plan heated up the economy.

However, there is some good news in this report on the inflation front. Jason Furman, who was the top economist for President Obama, pointed to a slight tempering in the wage growth, which may augur a slowdown in inflation going forward and reduce the risk of a wage and price spiral.

So, the president will talk about work to do on inflation, jobs numbers, and also the things he's doing as a matter of governance. He's here at a 3-D printing facility to announce a voluntary initiative, trying to ease supply chains further by pairing manufacturers with 3-D printers. And he's also going to make the case for this bipartisan Innovation Act, which has passed both chambers.

It's about to be negotiated to Congress and spend $50 billion on semiconductors. That's another element of the clogging of the supply chain. So he's simply got to put his head down and keep moving forward. And I think that's what we're going to see today. CABRERA: Michelle, let me come back to you, because I spoke with an

economics professor earlier this week who said he believes that inflation may have finally hit a peak. It's just a matter of how quickly the numbers start coming down.

The Fed did raise rates, so that should begin to have an impact. The White House has released the oil reserves, trying to boost domestic oil production to deal with gas prices. But what can the rest of us do at this point to cope with the rising prices?


So, listen, if you have got debt, your revolving credit card debt, you need to attack that aggressively, because it's still going to cost you a lot towards the end of -- for the rest of the year. If you can wait before you buy that car or replace your hooptie, listen, get it fixed, then that will help you.

Substitution at the grocery store, just cutting back as much as you can, now, recognizing that there's a lot of families that have cut to the bone. They can't cut anymore. And so, for those families, you got to think out of the box a little bit.

And what I'm going to tell you, people are not going to be happy with it. You might need to stay where you are and not move or not by the house. If you're coming out of college, go home, live with your parents. It's OK. And, parents let them come back if that's the case, or auntie or grandma, so that they don't have to be paying these high rents right now, and then locking themselves in for those high rates for a year if they sign a lease.

My 26-year-old daughter lives with me. And we were happy to have her. And she's saving a boatload of money because she doesn't have to pay rent. My son, who graduated from college with a math degree, is living with us while he takes some tests for his next career move. And we're happy to have them here.

They don't cook enough, but that's another story.



CABRERA: Hopefully, they're taking out the trash and chipping in, in other ways, right?

SINGLETARY: Yes. He walks the dog. So he's good about that.

But my point is that we are -- we have got to think differently, while we are recovering right now. And this that I got to have my own space or they got to get out, we can't do that right now, while we are allowing this economy...


SINGLETARY: ... to cool down and recover. CABRERA: And so, Matt, I do wonder, how much, though, is this a

problem that can be remedied on a domestic agenda? And how much is this a global economic force that we just have to ride out?

EGAN: Well, Ana, I think presidents have limited power when it comes to inflation.

I mean, really, price stability is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve, not the White House. And there are so many global forces that are impacting prices right now and the economy broadly. I mean, think about each wave of COVID causing problems to supply chains. The COVID lockdowns in China that have been going on in recent weeks, that is causing even more pressure on the ports in Asia.

And that's slowing down shipments of goods to the United States and to Europe. The war in Ukraine has sent energy prices, food prices higher. We see gasoline prices getting closer and closer to those record highs set in arch.


And, frankly, presidents and Federal Reserve chairmen, they have limited power here. There's no magic wand to bring energy prices down. If there was, they would use that magic wand.

CABRERA: Here's the thing, John.

When President Biden took office, he quickly got out COVID relief checks. You mentioned the $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package. And Americans had a much brighter outlook on the economy. CNN polling just over a year ago found 54 percent of Americans said economic conditions were good. Today, just 23 percent say good. Last April, 51 percent approved of President Biden's handling of the economy. Today, that's down to 34 percent.

John, a year ago, millions more were unemployed. Shipping had stalled worldwide. What does the president need to do to turn around public perception right now?

HARWOOD: Well, as Matt said, presidents have limited ability to move the economy on the upside or the downside. We always exaggerate the role of the president in the economy.

And he also has limited ability to change public perception. We actually have a strong economy right now, with a -- an inflation problem. But if Americans are focused on the inflation problem and feel bad about the economy, as all the polls indicate that they do, you can't really convince them otherwise.

So what you have to do as president is make the case for what you have done, make the case for what you're trying to do, and hope that the trends that we're seeing -- that is, you were talking a moment ago about inflation potentially having peaked.

Inflation could be declining for the rest of the year. That could change the public mood much more than any particular piece of presidential rhetoric.

CABRERA: John Harwood, Matt Egan, and Michelle Singletary, great conversation. Thank you all so much for being here.

Still ahead for us: Soviet symbols making a comeback in the embattled Ukrainian city of Mariupol. And hours ago, first lady Jill Biden arrived in Romania. This is the start of a four-day trip to the region. She will be hearing directly from people who fled Russia's violence in Ukraine.

And, later, a stark new warning about who should and who should not get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- plus, a mysterious illness with an unknown cause in children. Dr. Peter Hotez joins us for all of that.

Stay with us.



CABRERA: Now to Ukraine, where the heartbreaking ordeal of civilians trapped for weeks inside a steel plant grows more harrowing.

Ukrainian officials say Russian forces shattered an expected cease- fire today as evacuations were under way. They also claim Russia fired an anti-tank weapon on a car that was part of the effort, killing one fighter and wounding six others. CNN is unable to verify that a cease- fire was ever in effect. Hundreds of people are still believe trapped in the city's last stand of resistance.

And there's new information on what may be Ukraine's greatest victory so far against Russia, the sinking of Russia's prize warship last month. Sources tell CNN the U.S. helped confirm the identity of the Moskva and provided intel on its location.

Now, the Pentagon denies providing any -- quote -- "specific targeting information" -- end quote. We will have much more on that in just a moment.

But, first, let's go to CNN's Scott McLean in Lviv.

Scott, I want to ask you first about the evacuations today in Mariupol. Do we know if anyone actually made it out?


Yes, so we have just gotten some new information in the last hour and some more new information in the last few minutes. So, we -- originally, according to Russian media, there were 12 people taken out from that plant, including four children. There's video showing them getting from a smaller bus onto a larger bus. CNN can't confirm the authenticity of that.

And it's unclear if this is part of the U.N. and the Red Cross official effort to get people out. And then, just in the last few seconds as well, Ana, we're also getting information that another 13 civilians, including one child, were taken out of the planet.

This is, again, according to Russian state media. So now we're up to 25 people who are headed in the direction of Russia. Now, the Russians say that these people were held by militants. The last time that there was a successful operation to get people out, the Russians did, it appears, give people a choice whether they wanted to go toward Russia or whether they wanted to go in the opposite direction.

Obviously, most people took -- chose Ukraine, but there were some who chose to go to Russia. And in terms of information, we have reached out to the Ukrainian side. We haven't heard back. We have also heard from the Mariupol City Council, who says that they don't have any information on this just yet.

CABRERA: And we're getting some really striking visuals out of Mariupol, where, outside of the steel plant, Russian forces have seized control. What can you tell us?


And so they're proceeding to Russify Mariupol. They're not rebuilding it, but they are definitely redecorating the place. There are some road signs that they are starting to change over. You can see one there with the Russian tricolor. This is just a -- a town just outside of Mariupol.

There is also that statue that you see there, sort of an old woman carrying a flag of the Soviet Union. And then there's also road signs as well changing from the Ukrainian spelling to the Russian spelling. There's also some other Soviet era monuments that have sort of come back to life here.

We're also seeing in some other places, Ana, that the ruble is coming back into use. In one town near Crimea on the south coast of Ukraine, people are being told that, if they want to be paid in Ukrainian hryvnia, well, they can take two-thirds of their salary. Otherwise, they will get paid in rubles.

CABRERA: Fascinating and disturbing.

Scott McLean, thank you.

And now let's talk about what we're learning about the sinking of Russia's prize warship, the Moskva, and how U.S. intelligence aided that attack. Sources tell CNN that Ukrainian forces first spotted the ship in the Black Sea last month and then reached out to their American contacts to confirm it was, in fact, the Moskva.


The U.S. gave that confirmation and provided intelligence about its location. Ukraine went on to hit the carrier with anti-tank cruise missiles and send it under sea. But the decision to strike, the U.S. says it was not involved in that.

I want to bring in retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt and former director of communication for U.S. national intelligence Shawn Turner. He's also a CNN national security analyst.

Thank you both for being here.

General, the Pentagon explained they're not directing Ukraine which targets to go after. They're just providing them a road map, so to speak, to help figure out their military strategy. Take a listen.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We give them information. Other partners give them information. And oh, by the way, they have terrific intelligence of their own. They corroborate all that together. And then they make the decisions they're going to make and they take the actions they're going to take.

It's not just about the United States providing a specific piece of data.


CABRERA: General, explain why the nuance here is so important.

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR PLANS AND STRATEGY: Well, I think the key nuance is when they say targetable intelligence.

We give a lot of intelligence to foreign governments at all times. I think we have got to understand how much equipment we have given the Ukrainians, so why not give them intelligence as well?

But this is pretty broad intelligence. In the field I was in, in the field artillery, good intelligence was very helpful, but targetable intelligence, in other words, giving them the crosshairs of where the ship is, that's when you actually have targetable information that can be used to be struck.

So, again, I think this is a clarification, but -- and confusion, but I don't see anything that we shouldn't and wouldn't be doing in a normal situation like this.

CABRERA: But, Shawn, the fact that U.S. intelligence led to in some way this Russian warships sinking, how risky is it for all this to be made public? Is this a dangerous leak of information?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think that, as your General Kimmitt said, I mean, it depends on the clarification of the information.

Look, there's no -- it's no secret that we have been sharing intelligence, and we're going to continue to share intelligence. But, as General Kimmitt was alluding to, there is a process that the U.S. military goes, that the Department of Defense it goes through when it comes into developing targeting information.

And that process is very detailed. It's very specific, including, in some cases, getting down to the level of the type of munitions that would be effective against a particular target. It talks about vulnerabilities and other things along those lines.

And so, while we can certainly be open about the fact that we are sharing intelligence, I would think that, if we were sharing targeting intelligence, it would be a concern. It would be a risk. It would be seen by the Russians as an escalation.

But the type of general intelligence that we have been sharing, that's no secret. And I think it's going to help the Russians or the Ukrainians continue to be successful.

CABRERA: General, as Scott reported, there's growing presence of Soviet era symbols in Mariupol. What does that indicate?

KIMMITT: Well, I think we're getting the prelude to the May 9 victory speech that Putin is going to give.

He's going to sell Mariupol as a victory, as the independence, as the liberation of Mariupol, which is primarily Russian. Those defenders in there, the Ukrainian defenders, he will paint as terrorists.

He will say those civilians that were there were human shields, and it wasn't until the brave Russian soldiers went in and liberated those people out of the steel plant, ridded it of terrorism, which is the final act in ridding the Mariupol district of these Nazis and terrorists, that we now can get Mariupol back to the Russian-centric view that it had before it was attacked by the Azov regiment, this neo-Nazi organization.

CABRERA: Seeing these images of all of these symbols of the Soviet era and what looks to be celebratory on their part, it's just such a contrast to what we have also been showing and how Russia has come in and literally just demolished this city.

And it's completely hard to even see the Mariupol that used to exist prior to this Russian invasion.

Shawn, what do you expect to see Russia do come Monday, Victory Day, the Russian holiday commemorating their defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945?

TURNER: Yes, Ana, they have held up this day of May 9 as the day when Putin will announce some sort of victory or claim to have achieved his objectives.

I think that what we're going to see on that day is, we're going to see Vladimir Putin stand up and say that some part of what is today Ukraine is part of Russia. And I think that we should all let that sink in for a minute, because that's what we expect that he will do what.


What -- but what I think is really interesting about this is that, even as he makes that claim, I think that what the Ukrainians are going to do is exactly what they have done since the start of this -- of this war. They're going to continue to fight, and they're going to continue to attempt to push the Russians back.


TURNER: But, after May 9, post-May 9, I think that we will be in a situation in which, after Putin has made this claim, that we could -- we will see a reprise of his propaganda, of his rhetoric where he's alleging that it is the Ukrainians that are the aggressors, now attempting to attack what he will claim is Russian territory or Russian-controlled territory.

CABRERA: Trying to reset the narrative there, obviously.

Shawn Turner and General Mark Kimmitt, you both offer such great insight. Thank you for being our guide along the way throughout the last couple of months. Really appreciate you both. Hope you have a great weekend.

Right now, first lady Jill Biden is in Romania meeting with U.S. and NATO troops. This is the first stop on her -- what is an intense four- day tour of the region, giving her a firsthand look at the refugee crisis as well caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Just a short time ago, the first lady participated in a virtual story time with a service member and her son. And this is part of her White House initiative that connects military families with deployed service members through video recordings and virtual book readings.

Back here in the U.S., law enforcement officials warn of possible violence at abortion protests outside the Supreme Court. An eight- foot-high fence went up overnight. We will have a live report coming up.