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Daily Briefing – 376

Post: Sep. 20, 2021

Hochul: New York State’s Financial Plan Solid

Late last week, Governor Hochul released the first quarterly update to the New York State Financial Plan. The plan shows that the State is in a strong fiscal position as economic growth continues to exceed expectations, with revenues projected to be an additional $2.1 billion higher in each of the four years of the plan. Therefore, the plan is balanced in the current year, as well as the next; and budget gaps are reduced by nearly $2 billion through Fiscal Year 2025. The Governor has directed $1.1 billion of additional revenue to be placed in reserves, and $650 million is designated to reduce borrowing for capital projects. More highlights from the updated Financial Plan can be found in the Governor’s press release here.

As a result of the updated State Financial Plan, Governor Hochul announced on Thursday that the State hiring freeze would be suspended through the end of Fiscal Year 2022.Additionally, Governor Hochul urged State agencies to prioritize hiring for core mission activities as COVID-19 economic risks still remain. 

Read the press release

Yarmuth and Clyburn Suggest $3.5T Package May be Slimmed

Senior House Democrats Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) suggested on Sunday that President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending package may be slimmed down, Reuters reported.  Yarmuth, chairman of the House Budget Committee, also said speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may also delay Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Yarmuth said he expects that the larger social spending bill’s top line number “will be somewhat less than $3.5 trillion,” breaking with Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who insist $3.5 trillion is a floor figure. 

Read more at The Hill

Industrial Production Now Beats Pre-Pandemic Levels

The Fed’s latest report, issued September 15, shows industrial production in August hit 101.6% of average monthly production in 2017. The latest figure is 5.9 percentage points better than 12 months ago and 0.3 points better than February 2020, the last month unaffected by COVID-19.

Manufacturing production rose by 0.2 points, 5.9 points better than 12 months ago and 1.0 point above its February 2020 level. Production of motor vehicles increased in August as the seasonally adjusted annual rate rose to 9.53 million units, up from July’s annualized rate of 9.31 million trucks and automobiles and the 2020 average of 8.82 million.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Hudson Valley Region added 41K Jobs the Past 12 Months – Manufacturing +1,400

Private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley increased by 41,300 or 5.7 percent, to 759,800 in the 12 months ending August 2021.  Gains were greatest in leisure and hospitality (+21,100) and, trade, transportation and utilities (+7,200).  Manufacturing added 1,200 jobs.  Losses were centered in financial activities (-2,400) and natural resources, mining and construction (-1,200).

Private sector job growth continued to be broad-based, with seven of nine sectors adding jobs for the 12-months through August 2021.  Four sectors posted year-over-year job gains of at least 4.5 percent.  Leisure and hospitality remained the region’s fastest growing sector, up 29.9 percent over the period.

Labor Market Profile Hudson Valley – AUG 2021

US COVID-19 Update – Cases Begin to Trend Down

The current average (146,182 new cases per day) is still approximately 13,000 fewer new cases per day than the most recent high on August 31. A similar trend is evident for daily mortality as well. However, with 1,447 deaths per day, the US is at its highest daily mortality since March 1. The US reported more than 1,900 deaths each of the last 2 days, the highest single-day totals since February 19. The US surpassed 660,000 cumulative deaths on September 13, which corresponds to 1 death for every 500 people in the US. The US surpassed 1 death per 1,000 population on December 18, 2020.

The US has administered 383 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.  There are 210.7 million individuals who have received at least 1 dose, equivalent to 63.5% of the entire US population. Among adults, 76.1% have received at least 1 dose, as well as 14.2 million adolescents aged 12-17 years. A total of 180.1 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 54.2% of the total population. Approximately 65.4% of adults are fully vaccinated, as well as 11.2 million adolescents aged 12-17 years.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday September 19th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 69.9 of all New Yorkers – 13,562,219 (plus 25,971 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,428,909 (plus 2,049) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 62.4% of all New Yorkers – 12,150,219 are fully vaccinated (Plus 24,785)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,267,030 (plus 2,089) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday September 18th.  There were 31 COVID related deaths for a total of 56,184.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,295.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.99%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.07%

Useful Websites:

FDA Advisory Panel Votes Not to Recommend COVID Booster for People 16 and Older

A Food and Drug Administration voted against recommending the approval of extra doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for most people in the U.S., but a second vote on a narrower recommendation could follow. The outside panel on Friday voted 16-2 against advising the FDA to approve a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE at least six months after the second shot for people 16 years and older.

The meeting included a robust debate among committee members over who should receive boosters and when, and presentations that offered varying conclusions about declining vaccine effectiveness and the benefit of administering extra shots. Many panel members said they had concerns about widening booster shots for the general population with such limited data. Members said they would potentially support recommending a third dose for certain high-risk groups of the population such as older adults, but that there wasn’t enough data to justify giving it to the general population. They said that vaccines such as Pfizer’s are holding up against severe disease.

Read more at the WSJ

Retail Sales Post Surprise Gain 

Retail sales posted a surprise gain in August despite fears that escalating Covid cases and supply chain issues would hold back consumers, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. Sales increased 0.7% for the month against the Dow Jones estimate of a decline of 0.8%.

Economists had expected that consumers cut back their activity as the delta variant continued its tear through the U.S. Persistent supply chain bottlenecks also were expected to hold back spending as in-demand goods were hard to find. The pandemic’s impact did show up in sales at bars and restaurants, which were flat for the month though still 31.9% ahead of where they were a year ago.

Read more at CNBC

Another 332,000 Individuals Filed New Unemployment Claims 

New weekly jobless claims rose from a pandemic-era low last week, pointing to sustained improvements in the labor market’s recovery. 

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended September 11: 332,000 vs. 322,000 expected and a revised 312,000 during prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended September 4: 2.665 million vs. 2.740 million expected and 2.783 million during prior week.

As of Aug. 28, the total number of claimants across state and federal programs was just over 12.1 million, marking an increase of nearly 180,000 from the prior week. However, the overall trend in total claimants has been on the decline, and during the same week last year, total claimants were at more than 30.3 million.

Read more at Yahoo Finance

Deloitte: Holiday Retail Sales Expected to Increase 7%-9%

The holiday season is looking strong according to a new forecast from Deloitte. The group says that holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 7% and 9% in 2021. Overall, Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice projected that holiday sales will total $1.28 to $1.3 trillion during the November to January timeframe.

Deloitte also forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 11-15%, year-over-year, during the 2021-2022 holiday season. This will likely result in e-commerce holiday sales reaching between $210 billion and $218 billion this season.

Read more at Material Handling & Logistics

Rising Shipping Costs Are Companies’ Latest Inflation Riddle

Transportation costs—typically a fraction of a finished product’s price—are emerging as another supply-chain hurdle, overwhelming some companies already paying more for raw materials and labor. The cost of transporting goods is a component in every step in a company’s supply chain. Everything from iron ore, steel, parts and finished products has to move as raw materials are processed in global manufacturing. The cost of shipping containers across the ocean is higher, truck drivers are in short supply, and gasoline is more expensive than many expected earlier this year.

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven a long-lasting surge in transportation costs, putting pressure on many businesses already confronting higher wages and raw-material prices. Some CEOs are saying they expect elevated freight costs stretching into 2023.

 Read more at the WSJ

McMahon: More NY Job Gains in August—But Employment Needs to Rise a Lot Further

New York’s jobs report for August looked relatively strong—but only by comparison, that is, with what was generally regarded as a disappointing national number.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, New York gained 28,000 private-sector jobs last month—a growth rate of 0.4 percent, according to preliminary monthly estimates from the state Labor Department. This was double the 0.2 percent estimated growth for the U.S. as a whole, which was barely one-third of reported economists’ projections. However, New York’s performance was in line with its average monthly change this year.

Read more at the Empire Center

GM Extends Its Halt of Bolt Production Through Mid-October

General Motors Co. said it would extend downtime at its Chevy Bolt electric-vehicle plant for another three weeks due to a battery pack shortage as the company recalls the vehicles over fire risks.  The company will now idle the plant through the week of Oct. 11 after earlier saying it would stop functioning through the week of Sept. 20. The plant in Lake Orion, Michigan, has been idled since Aug. 23. With the recall underway, GM has urged some owners of Chevy Bolt electric cars to park the vehicles at least 50 feet away from other cars to reduce the risk that a spontaneous fire could spread. 

GM also said it is cutting production at six other North American assembly plants because of the ongoing semiconductor chips shortage. 

Read more a BNN Bloomberg

The Economist: Why America Needs a Vaccine Mandate

Across the world, governments from France to Australia are using pressure of one sort or another to boost vaccination. That should be no surprise. Ever since vaccines were invented, the state has asked some people to be jabbed to keep viruses such as yellow fever at bay. The justification for this intrusion was set out by America’s Supreme Court as long ago as 1905: even if in most cases you are free to refuse treatment, you are not thereby free to infect other people.

The question is whether each country’s requirement is proportionate. That depends on the threat and the costs and benefits of pressure. The calculus differs from one place to another.

Read more at The Economist

Is a Variant Worse Than Delta on the Way?

In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of variants have been identified, four of which are considered “variants of concern” by the World Health Organization—Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, all closely tracked by scientists on websites such as GiSAID and CoVariants. Delta is by far the most contagious—some 97 percent more sothan the earliest circulating virus, according to European researchers. But is it the worst the world might see? Understanding how mutations develop can help us grasp whether more concerning versions may yet appear.

But scientists are less concerned about any specific mutation than about similar changes arising in multiple independent variants, Cooper says, “because that suggests they make the virus more evolutionarily fit.” This phenomenon is known in evolutionary biology as convergent evolution.

Read more at Nat Geo