Judge Blocks New Overtime Rule

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On Tuesday, November 22, just before Thanksgiving U.S. District Court Judge Mazzant issued a nationwide injunction preventing the implementation of the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule previously set to take effect on December. The Court found that the Department of Labor had likely exceeded its statutory authority in setting a salary threshold higher than necessary to exempt “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.” Because the current salary threshold increase was unlawful under the plain meaning of the statute, the Department of Labor “also lacks the authority to implement the automatic updating mechanism.”

While the Department of Labor is likely to appeal the decision, the timing is such that the fate of the overtime rule is now in the hands of the 115th Congress and the incoming Trump Administration. Until this rule is officially withdrawn by the Department of Labor or no appeal of the case is sought, it could come back again with an unfavorable ruling on appeal. Read the full press release from NAM.

Hudson Valley Jobs Up in October

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October job numbers for the Hudson Valley have been released, and they’re largely positive. The New York State Department of Labor reports:

For the 12-month period ending in October 2016, private sector employment in the Hudson Valley increased by 10,300 or 1.3 percent, to 797,300. Jobs were added in educational and health services (+7,500), professional and business services (+2,100), trade, transportation and utilities (+1,900), and leisure and hospitality (+1,600). Job losses were greatest in financial activities (-1,100), manufacturing (-1,000), and information (-500). The government sector added 200 jobs over the period.

In October 2016, the region’s private sector job growth continued its positive trend growing by 1.3 percent year over year. However, this was the region’s weakest year-over-year increase in 2016. The education and health service sector continued to perform well. Growth in education and health services accelerated sharply last year (+3.5%) and is on pace to match that this year.. Employment growth in the region’s leisure and hospitality sector was also strong – up 1.9 percent year-over-year.

Within the region, year-over-year job growth was fastest in the Kingston MSA (+2.5 percent), followed by Sullivan County (+1.5 percent), the Dutchess-Putnam MSA (+1.4 percent), and the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area (+1.2 percent).

U.S. Manufacturing Output Rises-Again

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Output at U.S. manufacturers rose in October, marking the second such monthly increase in a row. Industry experts hope this is a sign the industry is gradually recovering. Production at factories accounts for 75% of all output, and saw an increase of 0.2 percent for a second month, according to a Federal Reserve report showed. Warmer temperatures led to a drop in utility use, resulting in little change to total industrial production, which also includes mining. Factories are benefiting from steady household spending growth at the same time the drag on industrial output from the oil sector wanes as prices recover and drillers employ more rigs. However, a bigger boost to manufacturing is unlikely without stronger export markets and more domestic business investment. Read more at Bloomberg.

New York State Business Activity Stabilizes

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At the tail end of a tumultuous year New York’s manufacturing sector delivered some good news. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s monthly report on manufacturing business activity stabilized in the state with the headline general business conditions index climbing out of negative territory for the first time in four months, rising eight points to 1.5. The new orders and shipments indexes also turned positive, rising to 3.1 and 8.5, respectively. Still, signs of economic trouble remained. Labor market conditions are still weak, with the number of employees and average workweek indexes both at -10.9. The inventories index fell eleven points to -23.6, pointing to a marked decline in inventory levels. Although price indexes were lower, they remained positive, suggesting a slower pace of growth in both input prices and selling prices. Indexes for the six-month outlook conveyed somewhat less optimism about future conditions than in October.

Can the Internet of Things Boost the Economy?

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That’s the question Craig Torres sets out to answer for New Equipment Digest. As he summarizes the issue:

In the world of making everyday life more digital, something is starting to tip. You can see it at Noyes Air Conditioning Inc. on Monday mornings.

They used to be a nightmare, as recently as 2013, says General Manager Chris Kaufman in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Seventy technicians would dump a week’s worth of service tickets on accountants who’d then scramble to get invoices and payroll out. It was “really killing us,” Kaufman said. Then he found Canvas Solutions Inc., a startup that specializes in online workflow documentation. Now, everything’s done on iPads and the cloud.

That’s just one example of how technology is starting to reach into neglected corners of the economy — as it’s long promised to do. From plumbers’ trucks to public transportation, and even those endless forms you fill out before seeing a doctor, startup companies are finding ways to digitize ordinary tasks that have escaped the attention of giants such as Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

By doing so, they might even revive U.S. productivity, healing one of the deepest wounds of the Great Recession — one frequently lamented by Federal Reserve board members, who wrap up a two-day policy meeting today. Some economists doubt the latest tech gimmicks are up to that task, and debate is raging on the subject. But there’s plenty of money lined up behind the techno-optimists, who say the Internet of Things and its spinoffs are only just getting going.

We previously wrote about the Internet of Things in HV MFG, have a look. You can Read the full Digets article here.

Paralyzed Monkeys Walk again with Wireless Brain-Spine Interface

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Swiss scientists have helped monkeys with spinal cord injuries regain control of non-functioning limbs in research which might one day lead to paralyzed people being able to walk again. The scientists, who treated the monkeys with a neuroprosthetic interface that acted as a wireless bridge between the brain and spine, say they have started small feasibility studies in humans to trial some components. Read more.

Election Day 2016: Light at the End of the Tunnel

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The grueling election year is down to its final hours, now all that’s left is for the people to cast their vote. In addition to the Presidential race, voters in New York’s 19th congressional district will decide whether to send Democrat Zephyr Teachout or Republican John Faso to Congress. Faso is running a traditional Republican campaign and has the endorsement business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as MANUPAC, the Political Action Committee of the state’s manufacturers. Teachout staged an unsuccessful primary challenge from the left against Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014 and Bernie Sanders of Vermont has endorsed her and campaigned for her. Voters in the Hudson Valley will also be casting their ballots two closely watched State Senate races for the 40th and 41st districts. These races will go a long way towards determining if Democrats gain full control of the State Government.

Click here to find your polling place.

ISM Manufacturing Index October 2016

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The Institute of Supply Management reported that U.S. manufacturing increased 0.4 percent in October, bringing the ISM Manufacturing Index to 51.9. The result is in keeping with many economists’ predictions. The report said respondents had mostly positive comments and cited a “favorable economy and steady sales, with some exceptions.” These numbers come as economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in October. The overall economy grew for the 89th consecutive month, according to the report. Read more about it.

The Multifactor Productivity Problem

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For today’s food for thought, I direct you to this column from Bloomberg: “Manfacturing’s Productivity Myth,” which takes issue with the claim that US Manufacturers have gotten more productive by arguing that this claim fails to take into account Multifactor Productivity. 

“The fact that durable goods multifactor productivity in 1987 was 69 and non-durables’ was 96 means not that durable-goods manufacturers were less productive than non-durables manufacturers in 1987 but that their productivity increased a lot more from then through the index year of 2009. Which I know is a little confusing, but the alternative — charting year-over-year changes in the productivity index — makes it harder to see trends.

So durable-goods manufacturing saw big multifactor-productivity gains in the 1990s that appear to have stalled out just over a decade ago, while non-durables productivity hasn’t really budged much over the past three decades. Non-durables are things such as food, clothes, chemicals, paper products and plastics.”

Read the whole thing.