Employment, Workforce & Education

Daily Briefing – 327

Momentum Grows for 2-Step Strategy on Infrastructure

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators that’s working to make a deal on infrastructure with President Joe Biden’s administration has made progress, as their ranks late Wednesday swelled to 21 senators from just 10 previously. That new figure includes 11 Republicans, up from five and enough potentially for the Senate to approve the bipartisan group’s package if all 50 of the chamber’s Democrats back it.

“Under this approach a traditional infrastructure-centric PAVE, -1.91% bill would be passed under regular order (60 votes) satisfying moderate Democrats’ demand for Republican inclusion. Then, in parallel, the Democrats would pass a reconciliation bill including core climate-centric pieces based on the American Jobs Plan,” he added, referring to Biden’s infrastructure proposal, which his administration has scaled back during negotiations from an initial price tag of $2.3 trillion.

Read more at Market Watch


Commodities Futures from Copper to Corn Tumble on China Reserve Release, Rising Dollar

The prices of commodities were falling sharply late last week, cutting into months of gains and weighing on equity markets, as China takes steps to cool off rising prices and the U.S. dollar strengthens. The decline in commodities was widespread, with futures prices for palladium and platinum falling more than 11% and 7%, respectively, along with declines of nearly 6% for corn futures and 4.8% for contracts tied to copper. Oil prices were also down more than 1%.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, has risen about 1.6% since the Fed’s updated projections were released. Commodities often move inversely to the greenback since they are mostly priced in U.S. dollars globally.

Read more at CNBC


Initial Jobless Filings Unexpectedly Rose to 412,000

Initial unemployment claims unexpectedly rose last week to end a six-week streak of improvements, even as economic activity ramped further and reopenings broadened out. But in the coming weeks, a phase-out of enhanced unemployment benefits across many states may decrease the total number of claimants.  

Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended June 12: 412,000 vs. 360,000 expected and a revised 375,000 during prior week 
  • Continuing claims, week ended June 5: 3.518 million vs. 3.425 million expected and a revised 3.517 million during prior week 

Read more at YahooFinance


Debt Ceiling Battle Looms in Congress

Congress is barreling toward a fight as soon as next month over raising the debt ceiling, creating a huge challenge for President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress. Under a 2019 deal during the Trump administration, Congress agreed to let the government borrow through July 31. 

In the Senate, raising the debt ceiling is subject to the filibuster, meaning Democrats will need GOP support. But GOP senators say they don’t expect their caucus to provide the 10 votes needed to hike the borrowing limit, which would set up a high-profile financial showdown with dramatic implications for the world’s economy. 

Read more at The Hill


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Pop-Up Vaccine Sites to Open at Primary Polling Places

Governor Cuomo announced Saturday that nine new pop-up vaccination sites will open at or near early voting locations, focusing on areas where zip code data shows the vaccination rate is lower than the statewide average.  These sites are made possible through partnerships with local governments and medical partners and are aimed to make the vaccine convenient and accessible in those areas most in need

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 58.8% of all New Yorkers – 11,312,365 (plus 23,768 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,203,312 (plus 2,233) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 51.8% of all New Yorkers – 10,124,471 are fully vaccinated (Plus 39,896)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,072,386 (plus 4,073) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday June 19th.   There were 4 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,918. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 491

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.38%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.33%

Useful Websites:


US  COVID Update – US to Invest More Than $3 Billion in Covid-19 Antiviral Development

The Biden administration will invest more than $3 billion on developing and manufacturing antiviral pills to treat coronavirus, the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.

The $3.2 billion investment will be allocated from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Mr. Biden signed into law in March. In a briefing Thursday, Dr. Fauci said the funding could accelerate clinical trials “already in progress” for some antiviral pills and potentially make some of them available by year’s end. The oral antiviral medicines would be designed to be taken at home and to treat symptoms early in the course of infection.

Read more at the WSJ


Regeneron Antibody Therapy is Effective, Expensive and In Short Supply

An antibody therapy from Regeneron, a firm in upstate New York, improves the survival of patients with covid-19 and offers renewed hope for the treatment of those most seriously ill with the disease. This new weapon in the war against SARS-CoV-2 is welcome, but it is expensive and in short supply.

Regen-Cov is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, known as casirivimab and imdevimab. Antibodies are immune-system proteins that disable pathogens by locking specifically onto them. Both casirivimab and imdevimab bind to different sites on the coronavirus’s “spike” protein, preventing the virus from infecting cells. Using two antibodies instead of one reduces the risk of the virus evolving resistance to the treatment.

Read more (or Listen) at The Economist (Covid coverage remains free)


WHO Says Delta is Becoming the Dominant Covid Variant Globally

Delta, the highly contagious Covid-19 variant first identified in India, is becoming the dominant strain of the disease worldwide, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said Friday. Studies suggest delta is around 60% more transmissible than alpha, the variant first identified in the U.K. that was more contagious than the original strain that emerged from Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Friday urged Americans to get vaccinated against Covid, saying she expects delta to become the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States. “As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky told the ABC program “Good Morning America.” If you get vaccinated, “you’ll be protected against this delta variant,” she added.

Read more at CNBC


NY HERO Act Imposes Safety Obligations on Employers

New York recently enacted the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act”), which requires private employers in New York State to take certain measures to prevent occupational exposure to an airborne infectious disease. We summarize the two main employer obligations under the HERO Act, based upon the amendments that were recently enacted.

  • Industry Specific Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan (“Prevention Plan”) must be distributed to all employees.
  • Workplace Safety Committee

Employers should start preparing to become compliant with relevant requirements under the two main components of law; this includes reviewing their existing COVID-19 related workplace guidelines to evaluate areas that may need to be reconfigured to comply with minimum safety standards and deciding how to comply with the specific rules for establishing safety committees.

Read more at Greenwald Doherty


US Refinery Throughput Rising Faster than Demand

US refiners are increasing gasoline production faster than demand is growing and delaying maintenance work, raising concerns of a potential oversupply and causing a series of failures at refining units from California to Texas.

Refinery runs climbed to their highest level since February 2020 in the week through June 4, while capacity utilization reached 91.3%, the most since January 2020, pushing gasoline supplies above the seasonal five-year average.

Read more at Bloomberg (Canada)


Hudson Valley  Employment Up Year on Year, Still Well Off  Pre-Pandemic Levels

Private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley rose over the year by 95,300, or 14.6 percent, to 747,300 in May 2021.  Job gains were largest in leisure and hospitality (+30,500), trade, transportation and utilities (+26,600), educational and health services (+13,500), professional and business services (+9,900), natural resources, mining and construction (+7,500), other services (+6,900) and manufacturing (+2,700).  Job losses were greatest in financial activities (-2,300). While the region’s private sector has regained a large portion of the jobs lost, it remains 75,300, or 9.2 percent below the pre-pandemic levels of May 2019.

Manufacturing employment in the region now stands at 41,000 (plus 100 from April).  Within the region, the Kingston MSA’s private employment sector grew the fastest year-over-year, up 17.2 percent.  The second fastest growth was recorded in the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area (+15.3 percent), followed by Sullivan County (+13.3 percent), and the Dutchess-Putnam MSA (+10.8 percent).

Labor Market Profile (Hudson Valley) – MAY 2021


McMahon: At Current Pace, NY is Still Years Away from Pre-Covid Payrolls Peak

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the statewide private-sector payroll job count swelled last month to just under 7.5 million, up 13.2 percent from the (historically deflated) level of the same month a year ago. Nationally, private employment in May was up 10.4 percent, according to initial estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Those numbers are a bit misleading in isolation, however.  New York’s job loss last spring was much worse than the national average—bottoming out in April at nearly 23 percent (-1.87 million jobs) below the prior year’s level, compared to a national decline of 15 percent in the same period. As of last month, the U.S. private job count of 123.4 million was just 3.8 percent below the May 2019 level, while New York’s total was still down 10 percent from two years ago. To put it another way, in employment terms, New York has come a bit more than halfway back—still 825,000 jobs below its employment level in the comparable “before time” of May 2019.

Read more at the Empire Center


UK Joins EU in Suspending Boeing Tariffs

Britain on Thursday said it had agreed a truce with the United States over a 17-year long tariffs dispute involving European planemaker Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing. It comes in the wake of a similar deal between the European Union and U.S. announced Tuesday.

The dispute, the longest-running in the history of the World Trade Organization, has seen damaging retaliatory tariffs levied on products on both sides of the Atlantic owing to disagreements over support for large civilian aircraft, the UK government explained in a statement Thursday. But both sides have finally agreed “to suspend retaliatory tariffs for five years,” it added.

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 326

Federal Reserve Now Projects Rate Increases in 2023 

Fed policymakers expect to make two interest rate increases by the end of 2023, the central bank’s updated summary of economic projections showed Wednesday. Previously, the median official had anticipated that rates would stay near zero — where they have been since March 2020 — at least into 2024. The Fed now sees rates rising to 0.6 percent by the end of 2023, up from 0.1 percent.

Inflation data have come in faster than officials had expected, and consumer and market expectations for future inflation have climbed. Employers have been hiring more slowly than they were this spring, as job openings abound but it takes workers time to flow into them. The Fed continued to call that inflation increase largely “transitory” in its new statement. It has consistently pledged to take a patient approach to monetary policy as the economic backdrop rapidly shifts.

Read more at the New York Times


China to Release Metal Reserves in Effort to Tame Commodities Rally

China said it would begin to sell major industrial metals from state stockpiles, an effort to squelch factory-gate price increases that have hit a 13-year high and are stoking fears of global inflation. China’s latest move targets copper, aluminum and zinc, among other metals, and outlines a program of public auctions to domestic metal processors and manufacturers, the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration said Wednesday. 

As the world’s biggest buyer of a range of industrial commodities, China is using its market heft to try to quell the sharp rise in global metal prices over the past 12 months, including a 67% surge in copper, a bellwether for macroeconomic health. Economic stimulus measures and a broad resumption of global economic activity from pandemic lows have spurred a spree of buying in China and elsewhere. Much of the effectiveness of Beijing’s metal auctions will depend on the amount of metals it releases—or that it is able to release—into the market. The government doesn’t disclose its holdings.

Read more at the WSJ


Liberal Unrest Threatens Bipartisan Infrastructure Talks

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set out an aggressive timetable on Tuesday, promising to try and pass both a budget resolution setting up a party-line spending bill and a bipartisan infrastructure bill in July, hoping to satisfy his diverse coalition of 50 Democrats.

Though centrists have dominated the last few weeks of infrastructure discussions, progressive members are flexing their muscles. Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced his opposition on Monday, and other liberals are threatening to join him. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are vowing to oppose any infrastructure accord that lacks major policies to tackle climate change. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says her members will oppose a deal unless Democrats also commit to a broader, separate bill.

Read more at Politico


U.S. Housing Market Needs 5.5 Million More Units, Says New Report

Construction of new housing in the past 20 years fell 5.5 million units short of long-term historical levels, according to a new National Association of Realtors report, which is calling for a “once-in-a-generation” policy response. U.S. builders added 1.225 million new housing units, on average, each year from 2001 to 2020, according to the report, which was prepared for NAR by Rosen Consulting Group LLC. That figure is down from an annual average of 1.5 million new units from 1968 to 2000. 

The 5.5 million-unit deficit includes about two million single-family homes, 1.1 million units in buildings with two to four units and 2.4 million units in buildings of at least five units, the report says.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

The 7-day average positivity is 0.40%  Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 58.1% of all New Yorkers – 11,200,556 (plus 33,425 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,191,686 (plus 2,892) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 50.6% of all New Yorkers – 9,941,713 are fully vaccinated (Plus 54,590)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,053,459 (plus 6,453) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday June 15th.   There were 9 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,891. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 650

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.40%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.38%

Useful Websites:


US COVID Update – US Buying Additional 200M Moderna Doses

The U.S. government is buying another 200 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the company said Wednesday, which could be used for vaccinating children or to address variants of the virus if necessary.   The deal allows the Biden administration to receive different versions of the vaccine if necessary, for example if a modified vaccine is needed to fight a variant of the virus. The purchase is exercising an option for additional doses from the original contract with Moderna. 

“Importantly, the agreement gives the United States flexibility to choose which type of vaccine we will receive from Moderna if Moderna adjusts its formulation, for example, for pediatric vaccines or to address variants,” an administration official said. 

Read more at The Hill


Do Incentives of Cash or Gifts for COVID-19 Vaccines Work?

To encourage greater vaccinations, some governments and employers have begun to sweeten the deal with cash or gifts for those who get inoculated. But will these kinds of incentives convince the sceptics?  Similar incentives can work in health care. Small fees are common in medical trials and money has been shown to nudge people to donate blood, quit smoking, lose weight and monitor their blood-glucose levels. It can work for vaccination too.

A study of teenage girls in England found those who were offered £45 ($64) were more likely to be inoculated against human papillomavirus. For one group, uptake more than doubled with the cash offer. Intravenous drug users in America were more likely to receive hepatitis B shots if offered an incentive. Cash also boosted tetanus-vaccination rates in Nigeria. But there are ethical considerations. People who need the money might be more swayed by covid-19 vaccine incentives than their richer peers.

Read more at The Economist


Aflac CEO: Expects Cancer Diagnosis Spike Post-COVID

Dan Amos, chairman and CEO of Aflac (NYSE:AFL), said Wednesday that low interest rates have forced the insurer to reprice new policies in order to make up for lost investment income.  In an interview with CNBC, Amos also explained that the company has taken additional reserves in anticipation of increased doctor’s visits now that COVID restrictions are easing.

The Aflac CEO said that people have been slow to go to the doctor amid pandemic worries, meaning that the diagnosis of some diseases, like cancer, has been delayed. The company has put additional money aside, anticipating a new wave of medical visits post-COVID.

Read more at Seeking Alpha


NY Fed Survey: Businesses Expect a Strong Second Half of 2021

Supplemental survey questions to the June 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey
and Business Leaders Survey focused on how sales compared to normal pre-pandemic levels, current and desired employment counts, and the extent of recent and expected remote working arrangements. 

  • On average, manufacturers report that sales were 1 percent above normal in the first half of the year and expect a 4% increase in the second half.
  • On average, employment was down 9 percent among manufacturers. However, when asked about desired employment levels, on average, manufacturers would
    employ about 9 percent more than current levels, which would bring employment back in line with pre-pandemic levels.
  • Manufacturers report that before the pandemic, only about 5 percent of workers worked.  Once conditions return to normal, manufacturers expect remote working arrangements to be only slightly more common than before the pandemic.

Read more at the NY Fed


Senate Passes Juneteenth as the 11th National Holiday

The Senate passed a bill Tuesday to establish Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in the United States, as a national holiday.  After passing by unanimous consent, the bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where its passage is all but assured, then on to President Biden’s desk for signature into law.  If the bill is passed in the House and signed by the president, Juneteenth would become the 11th annual federal holiday.

Celebrated on June 19, Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, recognizes and marks the emancipation of formerly enslaved African Americans, commemorating the date in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom.

Read more at Yahoo News


China Ends Renewable Subsidies

China will stop subsidizing new solar and wind power projects. According to China’s chief central planning authority, the country’s government will no longer subsidize any new solar farm projects, distributed solar projects for commercial users or onshore wind farms. The change will go into effect on Aug. 1.

According to OilPrice, “The motivation behind the cut was that Beijing wanted to ensure the local solar industry was sustainable in the original sense of the word over the long term. Yet, the reasons for the cut—and this year’s end of subsidies—were not exactly altruistic. China has amassed a massive debt pile in subsidies owed to wind and solar companies as a result of its previously generous support for new projects. The pile, according to a Bloomberg  report from July last year, is worth about $42 billion.”

Read more at OilPrice


GM Ups its Planned Investment in EVs, Will Build Two New Battery Plants

In a wide-sweeping announcement Wednesday, GM said it will increase its investment in EV and autonomous vehicle technologies to $35 billion through 2025, a 75% boost from its initial commitment in early 2020.

GM also said it will build two new battery cell manufacturing plants in the United States by mid-decade but declined to disclose the locations. The battery plants will be in an “optimal location to achieve volume,” GM CFO Paul Jacobson told the media Wednesday.  GM is presently building an Ultium Cells LLC battery plant in northeast Ohio near its former Lordstown Assembly plant and one in Tennessee near its Spring Hill Assembly plant, where it will build the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press


After Shake Up Lordstown Motors On Track for Pall Production

Embattled electric truck company Lordstown Motors has enough funding to operate through May 2022 and remains on track to begin limited production of its Endurance pickup in late September following an executive shake-up that ousted the start-up’s CEO and chairman, executives said Tuesday.

The company’s new chairwoman, Angela Strand, called it a “new day” for the aspiring automaker, which raised bankruptcy concerns after warning investors last week that it had “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a going concern in the next year.

Read more at CNBC


 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 325

The 70 Percent Solution – State Reaches Vaccine Threshold Set By Governor for Broad Reopening

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced that COVID-19 restrictions are lifted immediately as 70 percent of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination series. 

With the removal of the State’s minimum standard for reopening, businesses are free to choose to lift all or some restrictions, continue to adhere to the State’s archived guidance, or implement other health precautions for their employees and patrons. Businesses are also authorized to require masks and six feet of social distancing for employees and patrons within their establishments, regardless of vaccination status. Any mask requirements that businesses choose to implement must adhere to applicable federal and state laws and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Boeing-Airbus Trade Battle Set to End After 17 Years

The US and the EU have agreed a truce in a 17-year trade dispute over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus.  Under the agreement, both sides will remove taxes on $11.5bn (£8.2bn) of goods, including wine, cheese and tractors, for five years. Those tariffs, imposed by both sides as punishment in the escalating dispute, had already been suspended in March while they tried to resolve matters.

The dispute between the US and EU has escalated over many years, with both sides accusing the other of unfairly propping up their flagship planemakers. In 2019, the World Trade Organization ruled that the EU had illegally provided support to Airbus, clearing the way for the US to respond with tariffs worth up to $7.5bn (£5.4bn) in annual trade. Roughly one year later, in a parallel case, it ruled that the US benefits to Boeing also violated trade rules, authorizing the EU to hit the US with tariffs worth roughly $4bn.

Read more at the BBC


Producer Prices Climb 6.6% in May, Largest 12-month Increase on Record

Producer prices rose at their fastest annual clip in nearly 11 years in May as inflation continued to build in the U.S. economy, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. The 6.6% surge was the biggest 12-month rise in the final demand index since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the data in November 2010. On a monthly basis, the producer price index for final demand rose 0.8%, ahead of the Dow Jones estimate of 0.5%.

Goods inflation continued to be the dominant inflation force, rising 1.5% as opposed to a 0.6% increase in services. In the pandemic economy, goods have run well ahead of services as economic lockdowns constrained consumer demand for services-related purchases. Excluding food and energy, the 12-month final demand PPI rose 5.3%, which also was the biggest increase since that the BLS started tracking that number in August 2014.

Read more at CNBC


Empire Manufacturing Survey: Continued Growth at a Slower Pace, Prices Rise

Business activity continued to expand in New York State, though at a slower pace than last month, according to firms responding to the June 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey.

  • The headline general business conditions index fell seven points to 17.4.
  • New orders and shipments increased moderately, and there was a rise in unfilled orders.
  • Delivery times lengthened at a record-setting pace, and inventories edged lower.
  • Employment levels and the average workweek continued to grow modestly, and
  • Both input prices and selling prices continued to rise sharply.

Looking ahead, firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months, with the index for future employment reaching a record high.

Read more at the NY Fed


US COVID Update – Covid-19 Ranged From Illinois to Massachusetts Well Before States Reported First Cases

The Covid-19 virus infected people in five U.S. states in December 2019 and early 2020 before those states reported their first cases, according to a large new government study, providing new insights into the first, unseen weeks of the nation’s deadly epidemic.

Scientists analyzing blood samples taken for a National Institutes of Health research program identified seven people in states from Mississippi to Wisconsin to Pennsylvania who were infected with the new virus days or weeks before the first cases were confirmed in their areas. At least a couple had mild symptoms.


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – 70% of NYS Adults With at Least One Dose

State landmarks were lit blue and gold yesterday, June 15 in celebration of reaching 70 percent of New York adults receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to these lightings, firework displays will be held at ten sites across the state beginning at 9:15 pm.  The 7-day average positivity is 0.41% and is now the lowest in the nation.

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 58.0% of all New Yorkers – 11,167,131 (plus 39,435 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,1188,794 (plus 5,554) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 50.3% of all New Yorkers – 9,887,123 are fully vaccinated (Plus 79,050)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,047,006 (plus 11,802) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday June 14th.   There were 9 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,882. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 650

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.40%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.38%

Useful Websites:


UK Study Finds Vaccines Offer High Protection Against Hospitalization from Delta Variant

COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer (PFE.N) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) offer high protection of more than 90% against hospitalization from the Delta coronavirus variant, a new analysis by Public Health England (PHE) showed on Monday.

PHE said that the Pfizer/Biontech COVID-19 vaccine was 96% effective against hospitalization from the Delta variant after two doses, while Oxford/AstraZeneca’s offered 92% protection against hospitalization by Delta. They also said that those levels of protection were comparable to that against the Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, southeast England.

Read more at Reuters


Chinese Scientist at Center of Virus Controversy Denies Lab-Leak Theory

The Chinese scientist at the center of theories that the coronavirus pandemic originated with a leak from her specialized lab in the city of Wuhan has denied her institution was to blame for the health disaster. “How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence?” Dr. Shi Zhengli told The New York Times in rare comments to the media.  

According to The New York Times, in 2017 Shi and her colleagues at the Wuhan laboratory published a report on an experiment “in which they created new hybrid bat coronaviruses by mixing and matching parts of several existing ones—including at least one that was nearly transmissible to humans—in order to study their ability to infect and replicate in human cells.” But in an email to the paper, Shi said her experiments differed from gain-of-function experiments since they did not seek to make a virus more dangerous. Instead they were trying to understand how the virus might jump across species.

Read more at Medical Express


74% of Fortune 500 CEOs Say it is Likely They Will Reduce Office Space

To figure out how the big dogs will play their cards, fortune conducted a poll of Fortune 500 chief executive officers last month.

  • 53% expect their revenues to be significantly stronger this year than what they expected before the pandemic. 
  • 74% say they expect to need less office space in the future. 
  • 53% say two or three days per week in the office is the optimal set-up. 39% say four or five days, while 3% say one day or less.  
  • 10% say they plan to require vaccinations for staffers returning to the office. 59% won’t require it, while 31% are still considering the policy. 
  • 50% agree that CEOs have recently gotten too involved in commenting on social and political issues. While 50% said CEOs have a responsibility right now to speak out on important social and political issues.

Read more at Fortune


Manufacturing Output Accelerates in May on Autos

Production at U.S. factories increased more than expected in May as motor vehicle output rebounded, but shortages of raw materials and labor continue to cast a shadow over the manufacturing industry. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast manufacturing output increasing 0.6% in May.

Manufacturing, which accounts for 11.9% of the U.S. economy, is being underpinned by massive fiscal stimulus, low interest rates and continued strong demand for goods even as spending is shifting towards services amid a vastly improved public health situation.  But robust demand is straining the supply chain, with shortages of raw materials and labor across the industry.

Read more at Reuters


Retail Sales Fall

U.S. retail sales dropped more than expected in May, with spending rotating back to services from goods as vaccinations allow Americans to travel and engage in other activities that had been restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail sales fell 1.3% last month, the Commerce Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales declining 0.8%. Retail sales surged 28.1% on a year-on-year basis.

“Activity decelerated likely on a shift from goods spending to services,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in White Plains, New York. “Despite the slowdown, sales are rising at a strong pace in the second quarter.”

Read more at Reuters


UBS: Price Surge for Steel Will Continue Into 2022

The price for U.S. steel has been exploding this year in what has been an enormous turnaround for one of the country’s most important commodities—used to make everything from buildings and bridges to cars and spoons.

UBS reckons the U.S. steel price, may continue rising into the first half of next year. Good news for the likes of Nucor; not such good news for the construction and manufacturing industries. 

Read more at Fortune


CDC Study of COVID-19 Hospitalization of Adolescents Aged 12–17 in 14 States Finds No Deaths, But Some Need for Intensive Care 

COVID-19 adolescent hospitalization rates from peaked at 2.1 per 100,000 in early January 2021, declined to 0.6 in mid-March, and rose to 1.3 in April. Among hospitalized adolescents, nearly one third required intensive care unit admission, and 5% required invasive mechanical ventilation; no associated deaths occurred.

Recent increased hospitalization rates in spring 2021 and potential for severe disease reinforce the importance of continued COVID-19 prevention measures, including vaccination and correct and consistent mask wearing among persons not fully vaccinated or when required. 

Read more at the CDC


GE Aviation, Safran Launch Next-Gen Jet Engine Project

General Electric Aviation and Safran S.A. will work together on the next generation of aircraft engines. The companies announced June 14 they would extend their joint venture CFM International through 2050 and launch a program dedicated to developing new, more efficient aircraft engines with novel designs. The companies say the first-available CFM engines produced by the new program could be available by the mid-2030s.

The next generation of jet engine will look different from today’s. For one, the companies say the engine will include an open-fan architecture that shows off its turbine blades. Other technologies the companies teased would be used included composite fan blades, heat resistant metal alloys, and additive manufacturing.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Natural Gas Trades Highest Since Oct 2020 – Crude Hits 3 Year High

NYMEX Henry Hub natural gas spot prices continue to show strength. The benchmark traded at $3.30/mmbtu on Monday and has been climbing steadily since March, reaching its highest print since October 2020 when it hit $3.31/mmbtu.

Also, Crude oil  rose to its highest price in almost three years Monday as demand rebounds and restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted.  Crude oil in the U.S. was $71.50 per barrel on Monday, its highest price since October 2018 and around $23 more expensive per barrel than it was in January.

Read more at The Hill


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 324

“Targeted, Responsible” – Collins Pushes Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine advocated Sunday for a “targeted, responsible” infrastructure package with bipartisan backing as a group of senators attempts to broker a deal with the White House to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges and waterways. The plan includes $579 billion in new spending over five years, a significant increase from the offer by the GOP senators, and is focused specifically on physical infrastructure. The package would not include a gas tax increase nor roll back the changes made in the 2017 tax reform bill.

To pay for their measure, Collins detailed three mechanisms: an infrastructure financing authority; repurposing funding approved by Congress in March for COVID-19 relief; and a provision for electric vehicles for use of roads and bridges. 

Read more at CBS News


Jamie Dimon on Inflation Concerns

CEO Jamie Dimon says that JPMorgan Chase has been “effectively stockpiling” cash rather than using it to buy Treasuries or other investments because of the possibility higher inflation will force the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates, Dimon said Monday during a conference. The biggest U.S. bank by assets has positioned itself to benefit from rising interest rates, which will let it buy higher-yielding assets, he said.

 “We have a lot of cash and capability and we’re going to be very patient, because I think you have a very good chance inflation will be more than transitory,” said Dimon, the longtime JPMorgan CEO.

Read more at CNBC


Federal Judge: Texas Hospital System Can Require Employees to Get Covid-19 Vaccine

A federal judge in Texas ruled that a major hospital system in Houston can require its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, dismissing a lawsuit brought by workers who claimed the mandate unlawfully forced them to be human “guinea pigs.”

In late March, Houston Methodist became the first major healthcare system in the U.S. to require Covid-19 vaccinations for its existing employees and new hires. The system, which employs more than 26,000 people, says employee vaccinations are essential to keeping patients safe.  More than 100 of its workers filed suit against the requirement in late May.  Among other claims, the suit said the system’s policy violated a federal law governing the protection of “human subjects.”

Read more at the WSJ


Is the United States Capable of Industrial Policy in 2021?

Advocates for the United States to pursue a more active industrial policy had a good week. On June 8, the Senate passed the Endless Frontier bill, pledging about $250 billion over the next five years to bolster U.S. economic competitiveness toward China.  That same day, the Biden administration published, “Building Resilient Supply Chains, Revitalizing American Manufacturing, and Fostering Broad-Based Growth,” a report that report lamented how “as U.S. investment in the domestic industrial base has declined, our allies, partners and competitors have adopted strategic programs to advance their own domestic competitiveness.”

For there to me an effective industrial policy the United States would have to  that ensure these sectors will survive and thrive in a world of global competition. These policies would have to be sustainable across administrations, insulated from political capture, flexible enough to react to market shocks, wise enough to anticipate their second-order effects, and open enough to not alienate allies. 

Read more at the Washington Post


US COVID Update – 6 Months Into the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

COVID-19 vaccine rollouts began six months ago, and approximately 309 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide since then. As of June 13, the CDC reported 64 percent of American adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. More than 143 million people are fully vaccinated, amounting to about 54 percent of adults. 

Meanwhile, the Delta variant, first detected in India, is on its way to becoming the dominant one in the United States. Former Food an Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said it’s about 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first detected in the United Kingdom. 

Read more News 13 (Orlando)


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Statewide Vaccination Rate is 69.9%

Governor Cuomo Announced yesterday that the percent of New Yorkers 18 and older with at least one dose is 69.9%.  The 7-day average positivity is 0.41% and is now the lowest in the nation.

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 55.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,127,696 (plus 11,693 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,1183,240 (plus 1,015) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 49.2% of all New Yorkers – 9,808,073 are fully vaccinated (Plus 27,648)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,035,204 (plus 3,087) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday June 12th.   There were 7 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,872. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 617

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.41%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.39%

Useful Websites:


Novavax Says Its COVID Vaccine Is Extremely Effective

The first results from a large efficacy study of a new kind of COVID-19 vaccine are now out, and they are good. Very good.  According to Novavax, the vaccine’s manufacturer, it had a 100% efficacy against the original strain of the coronavirus and 93% efficacy against more worrisome variants that have subsequently appeared.

The Novavax vaccine is what’s known as a protein subunit vaccine. All COVID-19 vaccines are based on something called the coronavirus spike protein. That’s the protein that prompts the immune system to make antibodies to the virus.

Read or listen to more at NPR


Empire Center: Lawmakers Add to the High Cost of Health Insurance in New York

State lawmakers ended their session by passing a flurry of bills making health insurance even less affordable. One measure voted through in the final week increased a tax on health insurance by $40 million. Four other last-minute approvals would impose new coverage mandates, regulations and paperwork requirements on health plans—each of which would drive up insurance premiums that are already among the highest in the U.S.

As of 2019, family coverage cost an average of almost $23,000 a year in New York, which was 12 percent above the national average and second only to Alaska. One factor behind those high costs are the many coverage mandates imposed by Albany. Most are proposed in the name of expanding or improving medical coverage, but rarely are they subject to rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

Read more at The Empire Center


Consumers Find Shortages and Higher Prices as COVID-Impacted Supply Chains Shift for Recovery

Early in the pandemic, some shoppers heading to the grocery store to stockpile food and other items were greeted with empty shelves. Businesses worked feverishly to shift distribution away from restaurants, cafeterias and other away-from-home dining venues that were now off limits during lockdowns.  

Now with vaccines rolling out and consumers heading back out into the world, there’s renewed demand for things that were of no use during COVID. “There’s a part of the economy that’s been relatively quiet for the last year that’s reopening,” said Chedly Louis, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s. “The part of the economy that was quiet is revving up at a faster pace than the manufacturer thought at the beginning of the year. That’s the rebalancing that’s happening in the supply chain.”

Read more at MarketWatch


England Is Expected to Pause Reopening

Concerned by the spread of a new coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was preparing on Monday to announce a delay of up to four weeks on the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in England, effectively postponing a long-awaited moment described in the news media as “freedom day.”

In a statement scheduled for Monday afternoon, Mr. Johnson is expected to say that rising cases of the Delta variant, first detected in India, make it impossible to remove the remaining curbs on June 21, as had been envisioned, because a rapid growth in infections would pose a risk to the health service.

Read more at the New York Times


Visa Backlogs – Travel Curbs Strain Businesses in Need of Workers

For U.S. companies that rely on seasonal hires or foreign professionals like Mr. Ryder, an already tight labor market is being further strained by coronavirus-related immigration backlogs and travel restrictions that prevent employees from coming to the country.

Although federal officials have eased Covid-19 restriction guidelines, the U.S. still has kept travel bans on 33 countries, including the U.K., much of Europe, China and India. Citizens of those countries for the most part aren’t being granted work visas even if they are vaccinated or test negative for Covid-19. In countries that aren’t banned, monthslong backlogs at consulates make it difficult for foreign workers to get visas. Of the 223 U.S. consulates that normally process work visas, 160 are currently accepting appointments, the State Department said.

Read more at the WSJ


Rare Earth Metals at the Heart of China’s Rivalry with US, Europe

Amid the transition to green energy in which rare earth minerals are sure to play a role, China’s market dominance is enough to sound an alarm in western capitals. “The expected exponential growth in demand for minerals that are linked to clean energy is putting more pressure on US and Europe to take a closer look at where the vulnerabilities are and the concrete steps these governments can take,” said Jane Nakano, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In 2019, the United States imported 80 percent of its rare earth minerals from China, the U.S. Geological Survey says. The European Union gets 98% of its supply from China, the European Commission said last year.

Read more in IndustryWeek


Flagship Pioneering, The Investor Behind Moderna, Raises $3.4 Billion For New Fund

Flagship Pioneering, the investor behind Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna, said today that it had raised $3.4 billion for a new fund. The fund is a giant one even at a time when investment has been flowing into biotechnology and therapeutics.

Flagship founder Noubar Afeyan, who is worth $2.9 billion, has helped start more than 50 public and private healthcare and life sciences companies over the course of his career. “Biotechnology is at the leading edge of technological progress, challenging us to think beyond incremental advances and take big leaps – and Flagship Pioneering is focused on actively leaping to the scientific spaces ripe for disruption.” Afeyan said in a statement.

Read more at Forbes


 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 323

“Fantastic Degree of Harmony:” G-7 Leaders Agree on Vaccines, China and Minimum Corporate Tax

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations Yesterday pledged more than 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, vowed to help developing countries grow their economies while fighting climate change and agreed to challenge China’s “non-market economic practices” and call out Beijing for rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “fantastic degree of harmony” among the reenergized group, which met in person for the first time in two years.

The G-7 also backed a minimum tax of at least 15% on large multinational companies to stop corporations from using tax havens to avoid taxes.

Read more at the AP


Inflation is Hotter Than Expected, But it Looks Temporary

The consumer price index rose 5% in May on a year-over-year basis, the highest since the summer of 2008, when oil prices were skyrocketing. Excluding food and energy, core CPI rose 3.8% year over year, the highest pace since 1992. A third of the increase was attributed to a sharp 7.3% increase in used car and truck prices.

Fed officials have described the current period of high inflation as transitory, meaning it should be brief or short-lived. They have expected several months of elevated price increases because of pent-up demand and supply chain lags. The comparison to last year’s weak levels — at a time when the economy was mostly shut down — is also a factor.

Read more at CNBC


Bipartisan Senate Group Announces Infrastructure Deal

A bipartisan group of 10 senators Thursday afternoon announced an agreement on a “compromise framework” to invest $1.2 trillion in infrastructure over the next eight years. Sources familiar with the deal said it would provide $974 billion over five years. They also said the framework is focused on “core, physical infrastructure” and would not increase taxes, though it includes an option to index the gas tax to inflation.

The senators cautioned that the deal still needs to be presented to the Senate Republican conference and the White House to see if there’s broader buy-in. “We have a tentative agreement on the pay-fors, yes, but that’s among the five Democrats and the five Republicans. It has not been taken to our respective caucuses or the White House so we’re in the middle of the process. We’re not at the end of the process, not at the beginning but we’re in the middle,” Romney told reporters Thursday afternoon.

Read more at The Hill


OSHA Issues COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard That Does NOT Include Manufacturers – Separate Guidance Does

On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a long-anticipated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) relating to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Despite early expectations that the ETS would apply universally to all workplaces, the new ETS is narrowly tailored to certain employers in the health care industry.

However, OSHA paired its release of the new ETS with an updated version of its informal COVID-19 employer guidance, which more broadly applies to all workplaces. and aligns more closely with CDC Guidelines. 


US COVID Update – Vaccination Pace Ticks Higher

The US has distributed 372.8 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and administered 305.7 million. The average daily vaccine doses administered increased slightly over the past several days, likely stemming from delayed reporting over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The US is averaging 867,109 doses per day, and 535,221 people are achieving fully vaccinated status per day, down from a high of 1.8 million per day on April 12.

A total of 172 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, equivalent to 51.9% of the entire US population. Among adults, 64.0% have received at least 1 dose, and 7.3 million adolescents aged 12-17 years have received at least 1 dose. A total of 141.6 million people are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 42.6% of the total population. Among adults, 53.4% are fully vaccinated, and 3.6 million adolescents aged 12-17 years are fully vaccinated.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Low Positivity Trend Continues

Governor Cuomo Announced yesterday that the 7-day average positivity is 0.42% and is now the lowest in the nation.

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 55.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,116,003 (plus 15,083 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,1182,225 (plus 1,000) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 49.1% of all New Yorkers – 9,780,425 are fully vaccinated (Plus 34,005)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,032,117 (plus 2,995) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday June 12th.   There were 8 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,864. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 630

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.42%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.41%

Useful Websites:


Global Manufacturing Index Edges Higher

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI edged up from 55.9 in April to 56.0 in May, the fastest pace since April 2010. New orders and exports expanded at the strongest rates in 11 years, and manufacturers remained very upbeat in their outlook for production. Survey respondents also cited significant supply chain disruptions, with input prices rising the most since March 2011 and output prices soaring at a record pace.

For the fourth consecutive month, eight of the top nine markets for U.S. manufactured goods had expanding manufacturing sectors. Manufacturing activity in Mexico remained challenged, but the Netherlands and the United Kingdom set new records for PMIs in May. Encouragingly, the overall data—while mixed in May—continued to reflect significant progress in the economy over the past year, as the world begins to emerge from COVID-19-related weaknesses and even with lingering hot spots for the virus in some key markets.

Read more from JP Morgan Chase


Weekly Jobless Claims Fell for a Sixth Straight Week 

U.S. states saw the fewest new unemployment claims since March 2020 last week, with initial filings down for a sixth straight week as economic activity picked up further. 

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended June 5: 376,000 vs. 370,000 expected and an unrevised 385,000 last week 
  • Continuing claims, week ended May 22: 3.499 million vs. 3.665 million expected and a revised 3.757 million last week 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


UK Economy Grew  2.3% in April as Covid-19 Restrictions Eased 

The UK economy grew 2.3% in April, its fastest monthly growth since July last year. Shoppers spent more on the High Street as non-essential shops reopened, and people bought more cars and caravans. There was also more spending in pubs, cafes and restaurants as restrictions eased the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Despite the surge in activity, the UK economy is still 3.7% below its pre-pandemic peak. Construction fell in April, compared to strong growth the previous month, but the sector remains above its pre-pandemic peak.  Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the figures were “a promising sign that our economy is beginning to recover”.

Read more at the BBC


G7 Vaccine Pledge is Just a Drop in the Ocean, Campaigners Say

A Group of Seven plan to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries lacks ambition, is far too slow and shows Western leaders are not yet up to the job of tackling the worst public health crisis in a century, campaigners said on Friday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he expected G7 leaders to agree the donations as part of a plan to inoculate the world’s nearly 8 billion people against the coronavirus by the end of next year. After U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to supercharge the battle against the virus with a donation of 500 million Pfizer (PFE.N) shots, Johnson said Britain would give at least 100 million vaccines within the next year. Other pledges may follow.

Read more at Reuters


Keystone XL’s Demise Shows Hard Road for New Pipelines

The failure of the Keystone XL project demonstrated the challenges of building new pipelines in the U.S. and Canada amid galvanized environmental groups and delivered a blow to oil-and-gas companies that now must rely on aging infrastructure.  The U.S. and Canada still rely on pipelines to transport fossil fuels that underpin commerce, transportation and heating and cooling. As pipelines become increasingly difficult to build, the countries will become more dependent on older infrastructure that is vulnerable to disruptions. The shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline last month after it was attacked by hackers highlights the potential impact caused by unexpected disruptions to the current network.

Protesters targeted Keystone XL, which Canada’s TC Energy Corp. abandoned Wednesday, and other pipelines for more than a decade, hoping to choke off fossil-fuel usage by making it harder to transport. The success with Keystone XL already has emboldened environmentalists, who in recent weeks have turned their attention to other pipelines in the U.S. and Canada.

Read more at the WSJ


Send Not to Know…. Will We Ever know the Real Pandemic Death Toll?

“There are fundamental, inherent challenges,” says Samira Asma, assistant director general for data, analytics, and delivery for impact at the World Health Organization. Even in wealthy nations, officials are grappling with incorrect diagnoses, irregularities in the data tracking, and other factors that can obscure the virus’s true impact. “So because of this, we don’t have a complete understanding of the entire scope of the pandemic.”

But the past year has also been a stark reminder of inequalities throughout the world—including the resources needed to collect timely and accurate data on deaths. In an assessment conducted in 2019, the WHO found that about two-thirds of the countries in the world lack strong civil registration and vital statistics systems that keep a count of births and deaths.


Remote Workers Work Longer, Not More Efficiently

Early surveys of employees and employers found that remote work did not reduce productivity. But a new study of more than 10,000 employees at an Asian technology company between April 2019 and August 2020 paints a different picture. The firm uses software installed on employees’ computers that tracked which applications or websites were active, and whether the employee was using the keyboard or a mouse. (Shopping online didn’t count.)

The research certainly concluded that the employees were working hard. Total hours worked were 30% higher than before the pandemic, including an 18% increase in working outside normal hours. But this extra effort did not translate into any rise in output. This may explain the earlier survey evidence; both employers and employees felt they were producing as much as before. But the correct way to measure productivity is output per working hour. With all that extra time on the job, this fell by 20%.

Read more at The Economist


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 322

Senate Passes Bill to Address Competition From China

The Senate passed a far-reaching $250 billion China legislative package on Tuesday, offering a framework for how the U.S. plans to counter increasing competition from China.

Much of the sweeping package is aimed at bolstering the country’s ability to out-compete China, with increased investment in research and development around advanced technology like artificial intelligence and funding for semiconductor production closer to home. The Senate voted 68-32 to pass the United States Innovation and Competition Act the same day the Biden administration released a report outlining initiatives to shore up critical supply chains of goods, including semiconductors, advanced batteries and rare earth minerals, and measures to address bottlenecks with a “whole of government” approach. 

Read more at Barrons


Biden Ends Infrastructure Talks with Senate GOP, Bipartisan Senate Group Takes Center Stage

Bipartisan infrastructure talks between President Joe Biden and GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito are over, and the White House will now focus on working with a bipartisan group of 20 senators. Biden and Capito spoke for five minutes Tuesday, the West Virginia senator said, the final conversation in what’s been a stubborn deadlock over how to pay for a massive infrastructure bill and how large that measure should be. 

The focus will now shift to a group of 20 senators, 10 from each party, that convened Tuesday afternoon and have been meeting for months. That effort is being spearheaded by senators including Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). They have been closing in on a $900 billion infrastructure framework but haven’t yet clinched it.

Read more at Politico


More on Administration’s Supply Chain Review

The review covers four areas: semiconductors, used in products from cars to phones; large-capacity batteries used in electric vehicles; pharmaceuticals and rare-earth elements that are key to technology and defense.  “While amplified by the public-health and economic crisis, decades of  underinvestment and public-policy choices led to fragile supply chains across a range of sectors and products,” 

The secretaries of commerce, transportation and agriculture will make up a new supply-chain task force focused on sectors that have experienced supply disruptions and demand issues. The review calls for a number of actions that represent a more active government role in supply chain issues and domestic manufacturing and much of it is geared toward competing with China.

Read more and see the list of actions at the WSJ 


CDC, State Department Downgrade Travel Alerts for Dozens of Countries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised travel health notices for dozens of countries to a lower risk tier on Monday, adjusting travel guidance for vaccinated Americans in the process. While the CDC had advised all travelers to avoid these destinations while they were considered “COVID-19 very high,” it now cautions travelers to make sure they are fully vaccinated before traveling to these regions. Unvaccinated travelers should still avoid nonessential travel to the Level 3 destinations, the agency said.

A total of 62 destinations – including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Italy, France and Germany – dropped from “COVID-19 very high” Level 4 tier to “COVID-19 high” Level 3 tier on the CDC’s travel recommendations list, which rates the risks by country. 


US COVID Update – US May Fall Short of Biden’s July 4 Vaccination Goal of 70%

he U.S. is on pace to fall short of President Joe Biden’s aim to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4. So far 14 states have reached 70% coverage among adults, with about a dozen more on pace to reach the milestone by July 4. But the state-to-state variation is stark.

The White House has launched a month-long blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy and a lack of urgency to get shots, particularly in the South and Midwest. But it is increasingly resigned to missing the president’s vaccination target. Nearly 64% of US adults have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 53% are fully vaccinated.

Read more at ABC News


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Low Positivity Trend Continues

Governor Cuomo Announced yesterday that the 7-day average positivity is 0.51% and has declined for 64 consecutive days.

Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 55.0% of all New Yorkers – 10,982,582 (plus 40,073 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,168,404 (plus 5,184) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 47.9% of all New Yorkers – 9,547,656 are fully vaccinated (Plus 66,508)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,004,692 (plus 8,722) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday June 8th.   There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,824. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 777

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.48%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.45%

Useful Websites:


Pfizer and BioNTech Have Begun Testing Their Vaccine in Children Under 12

Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE BNTX -7.43% said Tuesday that they have begun testing their vaccine in children under 12 years old in a pivotal study. If the results prove positive, Pfizer said it would ask U.S. health regulators in September to expand use to some of the younger children.

Meantime, Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said results of testing Moderna’s vaccine in children as young as five years could become available by the fall, which if positive could lead to regulatory authorization of its use in the younger age group.

Read more at the WSJ


Indian Variant Spreads in UK, Now 6% of US Cases

The Indian variant of Covid-19, also known as the Delta variant, could be linked to complications including hearing impairment and blood clots leading to gangrene, symptoms not typically seen in Covid patients. In England and Scotland, early evidence suggests the strain – which is also now dominant there – carries a higher risk of hospital admission.

While Covid-19 patients have long been at risk of other complications including increased strain on the heart and severe fatigue, which can continue for months after diagnosis, the reported new symptoms from the Indian variant will bring renewed focus on controlling its spread.   

Read more at NationalNews (Bloomberg)


Ulster Vaccine Site Moves from Fairgrounds to SUNY Ulster – Appointments and Walk-ins Began Yesterday

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the State’s Ulster County Fairgrounds mass vaccination site will begin to transition operations to a mobile vaccination trailer at the SUNY Ulster campus parking lot effective Wednesday, June 9. New first-dose appointments will be available at the new SUNY Ulster location starting tomorrow and all current appointments for second doses will be honored at the original location at the Fairgrounds. 

The Fairground site will continue to offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for walk-ins and will continue to administer second doses. First dose appointments will be available at the SUNY Ulster site beginning June 9. Walk-ins will also be accepted at both locations, as they are at all state-run mass vaccination sites. After June 29, the Fairgrounds site will close.

Read the press release


Chinese Producer Prices Reach Record Highs

The People’s Republic has an unusual inflation problem. A commodities rally exacerbated by domestic speculators pumped up the producer price index by a whopping 9% in May read more , the fastest gain since 2008. Consumer inflation, on the other hand, rose a tepid 1.3%. Companies appear unable to pass higher costs onto their customers.

The surge is a partial by-product of Beijing’s pandemic package, which relied on its standard playbook focused more on credit-fuelled infrastructure investment than transfers to consumers. Excess liquidity has flowed into real estate, pumping up demand for steel and glass; increased energy use has pushed up thermal coal prices. Higher interest rates might help, but hiking them would be extremely risky given factory output and retail sales both slowed in April.

Read more at Reuters


Oil prices Close Above $70 a Barrel

Oil futures rose Wednesday, with the U.S. benchmark crude extending a push above the $70-a-barrel threshold on expectations for strengthening demand and as data from an industry trade group showed a fall in American crude inventories.  WTI closed Tuesday at its highest since October 2018, while Brent logged the highest settlement for a front-month contract since May 2019.

West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery CL00, 0.40% CLN21, 0.43% rose 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $70.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. August Brent crude BRN00, 0.55% BRNQ21, 0.54%, the global benchmark, was up 45 cents, or 0.6%, at $72.67 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Read more at MarketWatch


Q: The Economy is Booming, Why Isn’t Job Growth? A: Technology is Filling the Gap Between Jobs and GDP

The economy is rapidly reopening, consumers are flush with federal stimulus cash, and retail sales, factory orders and housing are all booming. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is up 5.3% through May this year, according to a monthly series calculated by IHS Markit.

The gap between GDP and jobs is explained by soaring output per worker. The U.S. is in the midst of a productivity boom. That is positive for wages and inflation because higher revenue can absorb increased wages without companies raising prices. It isn’t such great news for the jobs outlook if employers conclude they can meet sales goals with less hiring.

Read more at the WSJ


 

 

 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 321

Job Openings Jump to Fresh Record High of 9.3 Million

U.S. job openings rose in April to a fresh record high, along with the number of people who voluntarily left their jobs, underscoring fervent labor demand and turnover as businesses emerge from pandemic-related restrictions and the economy strengthens. The number of available positions climbed to 9.3 million during the month, the highest in data back to 2000, from an upwardly revised 8.3 million in March, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed Tuesday. The number of people who voluntarily left their jobs increased to 4 million in April, while the quits rate rose to a series high of 2.7%. The figures suggest workers are growing more confident in their ability to find other employment.

Manufacturing vacancies climbed by 102,000 to a record 851,000 in April, while hiring declined. Job openings in retail and wholesale trade, professional and business services, and government were also the highest on record. 


Biden Moves to Grow U.S. Manufacturing of Drugs, Minerals to Bolster Supply Chains

The Biden administration pledged to use funding and resources — as well as federal trade protections and wartime powers — to cultivate U.S. manufacturing of key products, including pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and batteries, as a way to guard against supply shortages and create jobs

Tuesday’s 250-page report pledged an aggressive push to craft several national strategies for the U.S. industrial base. They will lean on the Defense Production Act, the Korean War-era law that allows the government to require companies to churn out products, and tariff authority — the Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 that currently taxes some imports of steel.  The actions are a sign that the Biden administration will be keeping some Trump administration-era trade policies while taking more targeted federal action to drive results following the deadly pandemic.


Justice Department Recovers Majority of Colonial Pipeline Ransom

The DOJ announced Monday that it had recovered $2.3 million in cryptocurrency from criminal hackers who compromised a major U.S. pipeline in mid-May. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a seizure warrant on Monday, allowing the DOJ to take action to confiscate a large chunk of the $4.4 million paid by Colonial Pipeline to the DarkSide ransomware operators.

While bitcoin has a reputation of being anonymous and secretive, leading criminal operators to use it to try to disguise their activities, the online ledger of payments is actually designed to be entirely public. A bitcoin user can use a pseudonym to open a virtual wallet, for instance, but that doesn’t always prevent law enforcement from accessing it or uncovering its owner.

Read more at Yahoo News


Bitcoin Slides 7% On the DOJ Colonial Pipeline News 

Bitcoin’s price slipped again Tuesday. The reason for the move may be related to concerns over security of the cryptocurrency after U.S. officials managed to recover most of the ransom paid to hackers that targeted Colonial Pipeline. The FBI was able to access the “private key,” or password, for one of the hackers’ bitcoin wallets. Bitcoin has often been the currency of choice for hackers demanding ransom payments to decrypt data locked by malware known as “ransomware.”

Crypto media outlet Decrypt reported there were unfounded rumors that the attackers’ bitcoin wallet had been “hacked,” an unlikely scenario. John Hultquist, vice president of analysis at Mandiant Threat Intelligence, called the move a “welcome development.” He added, “in addition to the immediate benefits of this approach, a stronger focus on disruption may dis-incentivize this behavior, which is growing in a vicious cycle.”

Read more at CNBC


US COVID Update -Vaccine Pace Slows

The US has distributed 371.5 million doses and administered 302.8 million. After a brief increase, the daily doses administered is once again decreasing, down to 828,634 doses per day as of June 2, the lowest average since January 11. Approximately 469,294 people are achieving fully vaccinated status per day, down from a high of 1.8 million per day on April 12.

A total of 171 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, equivalent to 51.6% of the entire US population. Among adults, 63.7% have received at least 1 dose, and 6.8 million adolescents aged 12-17 years have received at least 1 dose. A total of 139.7 million people are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 42.1% of the total population. Among adults, 53% are fully vaccinated, and 3 million adolescents aged 12-17 years are fully vaccinated. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Low Positivity Trend Continues

Governor Cuomo Announced yesterday that the 7-day average positivity is 0.51% and has declined for 64 consecutive days.

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 54.6% of all New Yorkers – 10,942,509 (plus 28,545 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,163,220 (plus 2,637) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 47.1% of all New Yorkers – 9,481,148 are fully vaccinated (Plus 51,858)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 995,970 (plus 6,047) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday June 6th.   There were 14 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,813. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 796

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.51%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.45%

Useful Websites:


U.S. Report Found It Plausible Covid-19 Leaked From Wuhan Lab

A report on the origins of Covid-19 prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California concluded that the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation, according to people familiar with the classified document.

The study was important because it came from a respected national laboratory and differed from the dominant view in spring 2020 that the virus almost certainly was first transmitted to humans via an infected animal, a former official involved in the State Department inquiry said. The State Department’s findings, which were vetted by U.S. intelligence agencies, were made public in a Jan. 15 fact sheet that listed a series of circumstantial reasons why the Covid-19 outbreak might have originated as a result of a lab accident. 

Read more at the WSJ


OraSure’s COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests Gets FDA Emergency Approval 

OraSure Technologies Inc. has received FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, “InteliSwab.” The agency has given the emergency nod for Over-the-Counter use, professional use in point of care (POC) and for Prescription Home Use.

InteliSwab incorporates a built-in swab that is fully integrated into the test stick, simplifying the entire testing process. The use of the integrated swab also helps ensure supply continuity, as InteliSwab does not require sourcing scarce nasal swabs.
The testing result is available on the test stick in 30 minutes.  The Company will be ramping up the production capacity to 70 million units annually from the current 55 million in Q3 of 2021.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Volvo Truck Workers Resume Strike After Rejecting Second Agreement

After two failed tentative agreements, UAW workers at Volvo Trucks North America’s New River Valley plant have returned to the picket line. Members of the UAW Local 2069 rejected the common language in Volvo Truck’s latest tentative agreement by 90%, its hourly language by 90%, and its salary language by 91%. Union workers resumed their earlier strike at noon the day after on June 7.

Ray Curry, UAW Secretary-Treasurer and Director of its heavy truck department, said May 20 of the latest agreement that it “made even more solid gains toward fair pay, benefits and job security protections,” but noted that members of the union “are the final authority.” Ray Curry, UAW Secretary-Treasurer and Director of its heavy truck department, said May 20 of the latest agreement that it “made even more solid gains toward fair pay, benefits and job security protections,” but noted that members of the union “are the final authority.”

Read more at IndustryWeek


GM chip-shifting strategy expected to boost profits

General Motors Co(GM.N) said Wednesday it expects first half profits will be “significantly better” than previously forecast, in part because of success shifting scarce semiconductors to boost production of highly profitable trucks in North America.

The increased profit guidance, and moves announced Wednesday to boost shipments of pickup trucks, indicate that GM is achieving greater stability in acquiring chips and allocating them among its model lines, after months of scrambling to cope with supply chain disruptions.

Read more at Reuters


Taiwan President Addresses Record Single-day COVID Death Toll, Electronics Plants Closures

President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her sorrow about the passing away of COVID-19 patients as the country set a single-day record of 37 deaths from the virus Saturday (June 5).

Tsai also turned her attention to the sudden surge of infections at electronics factories in Miaoli County, where 66 new coronavirus cases were reported Saturday, the highest number after hotspots New Taipei City and Taipei. The outbreak at King Yuan Electronics Co., Ltd. (KYEC), a major chip tester and packager, has come at an inopportune time. The world is facing a shortage of semiconductors, especially for the automotive industry.

Read more at Taiwan News


US Trade Deficit Dips to $68.9 Billion, Exports Up

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in April to $68.9 billion as an improving global economy boosted sales of American exports. The deficit, the gap between what America buys from abroad and what it sells to other countries, was down 8.2% from a record March deficit of $75 billion, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

The improving economic situation overseas drove up demand for American goods while domestic demand for imports slowed. In April, exports of U.S. goods and services rose 1.1% to $205 billion while imports declined 1.4% to $273.9 billion. Part of the boost in exports came from a $1.4 billion increase in sales of civilian aircraft, a positive sign that a rebound in air travel from depressed pandemic levels is prompting stronger sales of jetliners.

Read more at the AP


 

 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 320

Yellen Says Higher Interest Rates Good for Country 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that President Joe Biden’s $4 trillion spending proposal would be positive for the country, even if it leads to a rise in interest rates.

During an interview with Bloomberg News, the former Federal Reserve chair said the president’s plans would total about $400 billion each year — a level of spending she argued was not enough to create an inflation over-run. “If we ended up with a slightly higher interest rate environment it would actually be a plus for society’s point of view and the Fed’s point of view,” Yellen told Bloomberg.

Read more at CNBC


Bipartisan Lawmakers Prep $878B Infrastructure Plan

A group of bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers are preparing to reveal a roughly $878 billion infrastructure proposal, to be paid for over the next five to eight years. Lawmakers involved in the $878 billion plan include Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, plus Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.

There are still unresolved questions about the amount of new spending, and whether it would be better suited for an eight-year plan rather than the original five. One of the pay-fors would be a carbon pricing proposal as a revenue generator: $24 per metric ton, which actually exceeds the standard of the Paris climate accord.

Read more at Fox Business


Cuomo Announces Restrictions to Be Lifted When 70% of Adult New Yorkers Have Received First Vaccine Dose

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted once 70 percent of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination series. State’s New York Forward industry specific guidelines — including capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screening, and contact information for tracing — will become optional for retail, food services, offices, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and personal care services, among other commercial settings. Large-scale event venues, pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings must continue to follow the State’s guidelines until more New Yorkers are vaccinated.

Unvaccinated individuals will still be responsible for maintaining proper social distancing of six feet and wearing a mask as per federal CDC guidance. Consistent with the State’s implementation of the recent CDC guidance, masks will still be required for unvaccinated individuals. Large-scale event venues, Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes and health care settings will be exempt from the restriction lift. In those settings, New York State’s existing COVID-19 health protocols will remain in effect.

Read the press release


Cuomo to Allow Schools to Decide on Outdoor Mask Wearing for Students

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that school districts can choose to lift the requirement that their students must wear masks outdoors. Guidance on mask use indoors remains in place. This change aligns New York State’s guidance on schools with CDC guidance on summer camps, where even unvaccinated students are not currently required to wear masks outdoors.

“We’ll leave that up to the local school district and we spoke to the CDC, which has no objection. It’s very important that people understand the logic between these decisions and that they’re rational and based on the science and the data. We have a disconnect right now between the school guidance and the camp guidance, and it’s important to rectify it because if people don’t think the rules are logical, then they’re not going to want to follow the rules.” Governor Cuomo said.

Read the press release


US COVID Update -U.S. Covid-19 Deaths Fall to Lowest Point Since March 2020

The rate of vaccinations around the country has sunk to new lows in recent weeks, threatening President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of American adults with at least one dose by July 4.  The “low-hanging fruit – those people who absolutely want to get vaccinated without you telling them anything” have already been vaccinated, which has led to the slowdown, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on a White House-organized call with community leaders last week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on that 63% of adults had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, only slightly up from the 62% the week before. Twelve states, including Utah, Oklahoma, Montana, the Dakotas and West Virginia, have seen vaccinations sink to 15 daily shots per 10,000 residents; Alabama had just four people per 10,000 residents get vaccinated last week, according to data from The Washington Post. 

Read more at USA Today


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Low Positivity Across the State

Governor Cuomo Announced yesterday that the COVID-19 positivity rate dropped below 1 percent in every region of New York State for first time since August 19, 2020. 

Vaccine Stats as of Monday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 54.6% of all New Yorkers – 10,913,964 (plus 19,141 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,160,583 (plus 2,446) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 47.1% of all New Yorkers – 9,429,290 are fully vaccinated (Plus 42,247)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 989,923 (plus 4,915) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday June 6th.   There were 13 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,789. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 799

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.51%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.46%

Useful Websites:


Moderna Vaccine Could be Available for Kids in Canada and US Soon

Moderna announced Monday that it has requested authorization of its its COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents with Health Canada – and will file for emergency use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “for this important, younger-age population.” The FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine to include people 12 to 15 last month.

Moderna also said it had filed data for a conditional marketing approval in the 27-nation European Union to expand use of its coronavirus vaccine to children. Last month, the European drug regulator approved the shot made by Pfizer and BioNTech for children 12 to 15.

Read more at USA Today


China’s Guangzhou City Imposes COVID-19 Prevention Measures

The southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou on Sunday reported seven new local confirmed COVID-19 patients for June 5, bringing the city’s total since May 21 to 80 amid a resurgent outbreak.

Overall, China reported 30 new mainland coronavirus cases for June 5, up from 24 a day earlier, the country’s health authority said in a statement on Sunday. Of the new cases, 23 were imported. The remaining seven cases were all local infections in Guangzhou, according to data from Guangdong province, where Guangzhou is the capital.

Read more at Yahoo News


China’s Imports Grow at Fastest Pace in Decade, Materials Prices Surge

China’s imports grew at their fastest pace in 10 years in May, fueled by surging demand for raw materials, although export growth slowed more than expected amid disruptions caused by COVID-19 cases at the country’s major southern ports. China’s imports increased 51.1% on year last month in dollar terms, the fastest growth since January 2011 but slower than the 51.5% rise tipped by the Reuters poll. Exports in dollar terms in May grew 27.9% from a year earlier, slower than the 32.3% growth reported in April and missing analysts’ forecast of 32.1%.

While a brisk recovery in developed markets has bolstered demand for Chinese products, a global semiconductor shortage, higher raw material and freight costs, logistics bottlenecks and a strengthening yuan have dimmed the outlook for the world’s largest exporting nation.

Read more at Reuters


FDA Approves New Biogen Alzheimer’s Drug 

The first drug promising to slow the march of Alzheimer’s disease was approved by U.S. health regulators, a watershed after years of research and billions of dollars in investment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it approved the drug, which has the molecular name aducanumab and will be sold as Aduhelm, based on evidence it reduces a sticky substance in the brain called amyloid that is associated with Alzheimer’s.

The drug’s sale offers hope to millions of people dealing with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, given the lack of good options for treatment. Yet aducanumab’s impact may be limited. Doctors who say they will prescribe the drug caution it won’t help all patients, particularly those with more advanced disease. Some patients eligible for treatment may face $10,000 or more in annual out-of-pocket costs, health insurer Cigna Corp. estimates.

Read more at the WSJ


Defending Your Plant Against Cyberattacks

Companies should take a lesson from recent highly publicized cyberattacks that shut down businesses and interrupted food and oil supplies, cybersecurity experts say. Equipment manufacturers should ask themselves how they would respond to a ransomware attack. Some important questions to consider: 

  • How long would production be down?
  • What would happen if the company couldn’t bill its customers or pay its suppliers?
  • How much would it cost the company to recover from a ransomware attack? 

“If organizations can’t answer these questions, they need to take action immediately from a people, process and technology perspective,” said Steve Mustard, president of the International Society of Automation.

Read more at Plastics Machinery & Automation


Summer Job Market for Teens Is Promising

Businesses are counting on teenage workers to staff restaurants, golf clubs, resorts and other hot-weather entertainment spots emerging from pandemic lockdowns. Many employers are struggling to find enough adult workers, and so to fill the gap, they are leaning on teens like never before and heavily courting them to keep businesses running in a busy summer.

For many young adults now flooding into the hot summer labor market, conditions are creating a job bonanza, complete with more accommodating bosses, greater schedule flexibility and even higher pay than in summers past. Teens are answering the call to work. In May, the share of 16- to 19-year-olds who work rose to 33.2%, the highest rate since 2008, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. 

Read more at the WSJ


G-7 Begins Global Tax Battle

G-7 nations came to a landmark corporate tax agreement over the weekend, providing momentum for ongoing OECD talks on a new global minimum rate and reviving the relevance of the G-7 ahead of a leaders summit in England later in the week.

The deal’s two pillars aim to tackle tax havens by reducing incentives for companies to “move” overseas in the first place. The first pillar establishes a 15 percent minimum global corporate tax rate, while the second allows each country to collect tax on the profits made by large multinationals within that country, rather than where the company may be headquartered.

Read more at Foreign Policy


 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 319

U.S. House Democrats Propose $547 Billion “Surface Transport Plan”

A group of key U.S. House Democrats introduced legislation on Friday to authorize $547 billion in additional spending over five years on surface transport, a plan that would mostly go to fixing existing U.S. roads and bridges and increase funding for passenger rail and transit. The bill adopts some proposals made by Democratic President Joe Biden as part of his broader $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize surface transportation programs. Other committees have jurisdiction over other aspects of infrastructure spending.

One big question in all the plans remains how to pay for them as gas tax revenue has not kept up with repair needs. Biden wants higher corporate tax rates and other levies on the wealthy to pay for repairs and has also suggested a fee on commercial truck driving.

Read more at Reuters


Zucker to Schools:  Masks Off,  Masks On 

In an eleventh-hour notice to school districts across New York, state education officials on Sunday said masks would still be required during indoor instruction on Monday despite an announcement two days prior that signaled a major shift in policy for students and staff statewide. 

The state’s top doctor on Friday released a letter addressed to the head of the CDC requesting a change in mask policy. Dr. Howard Zucker said the state was prepared to eliminate its indoor mask requirement in schools and camps starting Monday, June 7, barring an objection from the agency. In a letter distributed over the weekend, first reported by the Times Union, the New York State Department of Education clarified that Zucker’s letter was a request for updated guidance for the state – guidance that has not come, yet.

Read more at NBC News


May Jobs Report: Economy Adds 559,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Fell to 5.8%

The U.S. economy added back another more than half a million jobs in May, with employment accelerating from April but still missing estimates even as the jobless rate slid to a new pandemic-era low. Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Change in non-farm payrolls: +559,000 vs. +675,000 expected and a revised +278,000 in April
  • Unemployment rate: 5.8% vs. 5.9% expected and 6.1% in April 
  • Average hourly earnings, month-over-month: 0.5% vs. 0.2% expected and 0.7% in April 
  • Average hourly earnings, year-over-year: 2.0% vs. 1.6% expected and a revised 0.4% in April
  • Manufacturing employers filled 23,000 jobs

Read more at Yahoo Finance


More on the Jobs Numbers – Labor Force Participation Fell

The May increase in non-farm payrolls represented the largest since March and a fifth straight monthly gain. And at 5.8%, the unemployment rate for May also marked the lowest level since March 2020, reversing course after unexpectedly rising in April. However, that drop in the jobless rate also came alongside an unexpected drop in the labor force participation rate to 61.6% from the 61.7% in May, suggesting a smaller share of Americans out of work returned to the labor force to look for or take new jobs.

“We expect that in the coming months there will be a significant rise in the labor force participation rate because several factors point in that direction,” UBS economist Pablo Villanueva said in a note ahead of the May jobs report. “Schools are reopening, COVID risks are diminishing, and in many states unemployment benefits are coming down. It is difficult to identify the impact of each of these policies on supply but they all point towards more people joining the labor force,” he added. “All in all, our view on the labor market is one of underlying strength during the coming months but with abnormally high levels of noise.”

Read more at Yahoo Finance


US COVID Update -U.S. Covid-19 Deaths Fall to Lowest Point Since March 2020

The seven-day average for newly reported deaths fell to 432 on Thursday, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The figure hasn’t been this low since late March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, the data show.

The current average marks the lowest point for average daily deaths after any surge during the pandemic, falling below a prior low of about 520 daily deaths early last summer, the data show. It follows a sharp drop in newly reported Covid-19 cases, with the seven-day average falling below 20,000 this week for the first time since last March. On Thursday, the average was 15,030.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Vax and Scratch and Low Positivity Rates

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that the ‘Vax and Scratch’ program – which provides free NYS lottery scratch-off tickets to individuals 18 and over with a grand prize of $5 million – will extend into next week at 10 state mass vaccination sites. The participating sites will be open from Monday, June 7 through Friday, June 11.

As of  Sunday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

  • 54.6% of all New Yorkers – 10,894,823 (plus 27,384 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,158,137 (plus 2,585) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 47.1% of all New Yorkers – 9,387,043 are fully vaccinated (Plus 48,058). 
  • In the Hudson Valley – 985,008 (plus 4,497) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday June 5th.   There were 13 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,789. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 816

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.52%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.46%

Useful Websites:


New Type Of COVID Vaccine Could Debut Soon

A new kind of COVID-19 vaccine could be available as soon as this summer. It’s what’s known as a protein subunit vaccine. It works somewhat differently from the current crop of vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. but is based on a well-understood technology and doesn’t require special refrigeration.

The vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer contain genetic instructions for the spike protein, and it’s up to the cells in our bodies to make the protein itself.

The first protein subunit COVID-19 vaccine to become available will likely come from the biotech company, Novavax. In contrast to the three vaccines already authorized in the U.S., it contains the spike protein itself — no need to make it, it’s already made — along with an adjuvant that enhances the immune system’s response, to make the vaccine even more protective.

Read more at NPR


Regeneron’s Covid-19 Drug Is Authorized for Injection

U.S. health regulators have authorized newer, more convenient forms of a Covid-19 antibody drug made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. that could make it easier for patients to get the treatment, the company said on Friday.  Doctors and nurses now can administer one of the new forms by a simple injection, rather than intravenous infusion.

Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody drug, called REGEN-COV, has been available to treat recently diagnosed Covid-19 since last November under an emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In clinical trials, the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 70% in people with mild to moderate symptoms. Yet the drug has gone underused, according to public health officials, in part because it requires intravenous infusions that not all clinics and hospitals are equipped to administer.

Read more at the WSJ


DiNapoli: Jobs in NYC Construction Industry Took Huge Hit During Pandemic, Over 14% Decline

The loss of 44,400 construction jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the State’s reaction to it, in 2020 was the worst annual decline in the industry in more than 25 years, with more than half the losses coming from New York City, according to a report released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Construction was the city’s fastest-growing sector from 2011 to 2019, rising by 43.5 percent, until it was brought to a halt by the pandemic.

Read more at the Comptroller’s website


BSK Review of EEOC Revised COVID-19 Guidance

Attorneys for Council of Industry Associate Member Bond Schoeneck and King write that in this new guidance, the EEOC explicitly states that federal equal employment opportunity laws (EEO) laws do not prevent employers from requiring employees who are in the physical workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers take into account employees who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.

The EEOC states that mandatory vaccination policies cannot be applied in a way that treats employees differently on the basis of race, sex, religion, or any other protected category under federal law. Moreover, employers with mandatory vaccination policies must take care to respond to “disparate impact” claims, which allege that certain individuals or demographic groups face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others. For those employers not wishing to impose a mandatory vaccination policy, the EEOC provides a list of resources that employers may provide to their employees to encourage employees to become voluntarily vaccinated. 

Read more at BSK


What Are the Limits to Government Borrowing?

The scale of Joe Biden’s plans is hard to exaggerate. Mr Biden’s first budget, which he unveiled on May 28th, will borrow unapologetically. The plans assume that annual fiscal deficits will exceed 4% of GDP through to the end of the decade; net public debt will rise to 117% of GDP in 2030 from 110% today. The largesse raises two big questions. One is whether, coming on top of past stimulus packages, it will contribute to an overheating of America’s economy in the short term. The other important question is whether in the longer term America can prudently afford to loosen the purse-strings for a sustained period.

In a new working paper, Atif Mian of Princeton University, Ludwig Straub of Harvard University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago attempt to gauge governments’ room to run. Their analysis (which does not incorporate the effects of the pandemic) builds on recent work that estimates how the “convenience yield” on government bonds—or the amount by which a bond’s yield is reduced because of the safety and liquidity benefits it offers investors—varies with the size of the debt burden.

Read more at The Economist (subscription)


What Happens if the U.S. Can’t Reach Herd Immunity?

Experts estimate that we’ll reach herd immunity for COVID-19 when 65 to 80 percent of the population is vaccinated—a number that seemed within reach in the U.S. once highly effective vaccines started being administered. Amid a swirl of misinformation, distribution issues, and legitimate hesitancy, as of June 3, only 51 percent of Americans have received at least one shot, and just 41 percent are fully vaccinated.

“The nature of coronavirus and other infectious diseases is they find where we’re vulnerable,” says Amber D’Souza, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “So wherever the pockets of people are that are not protected, there will be flare-ups in infections. It’s just a question of how long it takes for them to happen.”

Read more at NATGEO


Albany Eyeing $15B Tax Hike to be Hidden in Fuel Costs

The “Climate and Community Investment Act” now making its way through the Legislature would charge fossil-fuel companies $55 for every ton of greenhouse gases their products produce next year, with the tax gradually rising to hit as much as $15 billion annually. The fees would boost the cost of gasoline and home heating fuel, with consumers eating much of the increase — without many not even knowing why their costs keep rising.

The charges work out to 55 cents a gallon at the gas pump, bringing the state’s gasoline tax to nearly $1 a gallon — more than double the rate now and half again the tax in any other state. Home heating costs could soar 25 percent.

Read more at the NY Post


 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 318

Half of US States End Enhanced Unemployment Benefits

Half of the states in the U.S., all led by Republican governors, have announced plans to cut off billions of dollars in federal unemployment benefits for residents, as the number of Americans who have been vaccinated continues to increase. Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri will stop sending benefits on June 12, according to Reuters. For the other 21 GOP-led states, checks will phase out through July 10.

White House officials are reportedly concerned that ending the benefits too quickly, before mass vaccination efforts are completed, could hurt workers and the economy, both of which are still recovering from the negative effects of the pandemic. When asked why the White House thinks there is currently a shortage of workers in the U.S., White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said “it’s going to take time for workers to regain confidence in the safety of the workplace.”

Read more at The Hill


ADP: Private Companies Hired Nearly a Million Workers in May

Private job growth for May accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly a year as companies hired 970,000 workers, according to a report Thursday from payroll processing firm ADP.

It was a big jump from April’s 654,000 and the largest gain since the 4.35 million added in June 2020 as the national economy came out of its Covid-19 lockdown. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for 680,000 in May. The April total was revised sharply lower from the initially reported 742,000.

Read more at CNBC


Initial Jobless Claims Below 400,000 for the First Time Since March 2020

New jobless claims fell for a fifth consecutive week to reach a new 14-month low as fewer and fewer Americans become newly unemployed during the recovery out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended May 29: 385,000 vs. 387,000 expected and a downwardly revised 405,000 last week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended May 22: 3.771 million vs. 3.614 million expected and a downwardly revised 3.602 million last week 

Read More at Yahoo Finance


GOP Mulls Increasing Their Infrastructure Spending Proposal 

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), her party’s lead infrastructure negotiator, is preparing to come back to the table with Biden today in the latest round of infrastructure talks.  The gap between the two sides is massive at the moment — Biden and Republicans aren’t even counting the size of the bill the same way and are approximately $750 billion apart. Their differences appear nearly impossible to bridge right now.

Republicans are skeptical they can muster the willingness to come up significantly from their current offer of about $250 billion in new money over current spending levels on roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Biden wants at least $1 trillion over current levels. Democrats say they will give the GOP about 10 days before making moves toward passing a package using budget reconciliation, an arcane process that allows certain spending bills to evade the Senate’s 60-vote requirement.

Read more at Politico


US COVID Update – A Different Memorial Day This Year

Memorial Day will be the first major test of the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccinations in the U.S., according to many epidemiologists. Last year, re-openings in parts of the U.S. ahead of the holiday weekend led to a second surge of new coronavirus cases. Hospitalizations climbed in late June, followed by a steady rise in fatalities after the first week of July.

This year, epidemiologists and public-health officials are hopeful that despite millions of Americans traveling for the weekend and the broad rollback of pandemic restrictions, newly reported Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will remain low as more of the country continues to get vaccinated, albeit at lower rates.

Read more at The WSJ


NYS Vaccine Update – First Scholarship Winners Announced

Governor Cuomo Wednesday announced the first-round winners of the ‘Get A Shot to Make Your Future’ incentive for a full scholarship to a SUNY or CUNY school. Winners receive a full scholarship to any New York public college or university, including tuition and room and board. New York State will administer the random drawing and select 10 winners a week over five weeks.

As of  Thursday morning 10,783,869 (plus 39,064 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 9,260,652 are fully vaccinated (Plus 43,801).  In the Hudson Valley 1,146,517 (plus 4,104) have at least one dose and 968,061 (plus 4,588) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Wednesday June 2nd.   There were 10 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,745. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 970

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.60%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.57%

Useful Websites:


Empire Center Report Calls For Public Health Changes In Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic

New York missed its best chance to save lives at the onset of COVID-19 in February of 2020—when the virus arrived and started spreading before anyone noticed—not in March or April, according to a new report from the Empire Center analyzing the state’s response. The report, 2020 Hindsight, found the state’s early response was undermined by flawed guidance from the federal government, inadequate planning and stockpiling, limited consultation with experts, exaggerated projections and poor cooperation between federal, state and local officials, among other issues.

The report identifies several shortcomings by New York’s public health system that led to such a pronounced crisis, including its preoccupation with and overspending on Medicaid, which took resources away from pandemic preparation and planning. Ultimately, the state’s public health infrastructure proved to be underprepared, ill-equipped and slow to act.

Read more at The Empire Center


Global Food Prices Surge to Near Decade High, UN Says

A United Nations index of global food prices rose for the 12th consecutive month, its longest stretch in more than a decade. Since the pandemic began, a drought in Brazil has hit coffee and maize production. Output of vegetable oil in South-East Asia has also stagnated. Meanwhile, soaring meat consumption as China’s economy rapidly recovers has increased its demand for grain imports

The UN’s index is treading at its highest since September 2011, with last month’s gain of 4.8% being the biggest in more than 10 years. All five components of the index rose during the month.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


U.S. Inflation is Transitory but Could Become More Persistent, says ex-Fed Official William Dudley

The recent spike in U.S. inflation is likely transitory for now — but it could become more persistent in the coming years as more people return to work, said former New York Fed President William Dudley.  “I think that the scare right now is probably going to abate a bit as we go through the next year, but I think in the long run, are we going to see inflation … above 2%? I think the Fed is going to succeed in doing that,” Dudley told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” Wednesday.

Dudley said the latest spike in inflation was driven by factors that will resolve over time, such as disruptions in supply chains and a comparison against lower numbers last year as the economy was badly hit by the pandemic.  In addition, more people must gain employment before the U.S. faces a labor constraint that feeds through to inflation more persistently in the coming years, he added.

Read more at CNBC

Report: Reshoring Rose Significantly in 2020

According to The Reshoring Initiative, which released its 2020 Data Report June 2. More jobs were created in the U.S. thanks to reshoring in 2020 than were created by foreign direct investment, the report says, the first time that’s happened since 2013. Reshoring created about 109,000 U.S. jobs out of about 161,000 total jobs created from reshoring and foreign direct investment in 2020.

The most common reasons cited by reshoring companies in the report for their decision to bring jobs back to the U.S. was the positive domestic factor “proximity to customers/market,” which 1,367 companies cited. “Government incentives” was the second-most popular reason, and just over a thousand companies said they returned to the U.S. to seek available skilled workers. The most-cited negative factor for reshoring was quality of goods, cited 359 times.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Boom – United Airlines Inks Deal for 15 New Supersonic Jets

United Airlines may be making a play to revive faster-than-sound air travel. The airline announced June 3 it had reached a deal with Denver, Colorado-based aerospace company Boom Supersonic Inc. to acquire 15 of its Overture aircraft once United’s safety and sustainability standards are met. A joint statement from the companies indicated United plans to have the planes carrying passengers by 2029.

The Overture jet, according to Boom Supersonic, is capable of reaching Mach 1.7, twice the speed of most aircraft on the market, and almost two times the speed of sound. The company says that means the plane could get from San Francisco to Tokyo in six hours or Newark to London in three and a half.

Read more at IndustryWeek


NASA Picks Twin Missions To Visit Venus

NASA has decided to send two new missions to Venus, our closest planetary neighbor, making it the first time the agency will go to this scorching hot world in more than three decades. The news has thrilled planetary scientists who have long argued that Venus deserves more attention because it could be a cautionary tale of a pleasant, Earth-like world that somehow went horribly awry.

“I never knew it was possible to cry and have goose bumps at the same time, because that’s what happened to me when I heard the news,” said Darby Dyar, a planetary geologist at Mount Holyoke College who is the deputy principal investigator on one of the missions, and chair of NASA’s Venus exploration advisory group. “The Venus community has waited decades for this moment, and to have NASA give us two missions in one, both complementary, is out of this world,” Dyar said.

Read more at NPR


 

 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 317

Biden, Capito Seek Progress in Infrastructure Talks

The White House meeting between the president and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.) comes after Senate Republicans unveiled a plan to spend $928 billion over eight years to update roads, bridges, rail and transit systems. That offer is an increase from the GOP’s original five-year $568 billion proposal, but it still left the two sides far apart. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), speaking in his home state Wednesday, said he talked to Mrs. Capito in the morning and was hopeful “that we can actually reach a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure.”

There is other movement on infrastructure as well. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously advanced a $304 billion reauthorization bill last week, legislation that lawmakers see as a possible component of a broader infrastructure deal. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up their surface reauthorization bill next week, which has overlap but covers a broader group of transportation and infrastructure costs.

Read more at the WSJ


2021 Fortune 500 – Lots of Turmoil

The 2021 Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies is out this morning, and while there was no change at the very top—Walmart landed at No.1 and Amazon at No.2, just like last year—there was huge turmoil underneath. Exxon Mobil, which has been in the top five every year since the list’s launch in 1955, plummeted to No.10 and recorded the single biggest loss, some $22 billion, among the companies on the 500. Four airlines fell more than 100 places each—Delta, United, American and Southwest—with revenue losses of at least 60% each. And Marriott International fell 136 spots to No.293, reporting a $267 million loss.  

Meanwhile, on the upside, Advanced Micro Devices made the biggest jump, up 139 spots to No.309. Newcomer Rocket Companies blasted its way to No.193 on the list, powered by a 204% leap in revenue.  PayPal rose to No.134, thanks to a 20.7% increase in revenue. And Dollar General cracked the top 100, at No.91, thanks to a 21.6% increase in sales. There were 24 newcomers on the list, including Chewy (No.403) and Chipotle (No.464.)

Explore the full list at Fortune


Biden Freezes Oil Leases in Alaska Refuge Pending New Environmental Review

The Biden administration is suspending all oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge pending a deeper look at the environmental impacts of drilling in the sensitive region, the Interior Department said Tuesday.

A new environmental analysis could impose additional restrictions on development in the refuge or potentially nullify the leases altogether, undoing one of the signature policy achievements of the Trump administration. But Tuesday’s secretarial order does not go as far as green groups have requested in an ongoing lawsuit, which aims to void the leases that were awarded earlier this year.

Read more at Politico


Oil Price Hits Two-Year High as OPEC Sees More Demand

The global oil-price benchmark closed above $70 a barrel for the first time in two years Tuesday on investors’ optimism that improving demand and a dwindling supply glut may mean the market can absorb any additional production from OPEC and its allies. Brent crude rose to $70.25 a barrel, the highest close since May 2019. West Texas Intermediate futures gained $1.40, or 2.1%, to $67.72 a barrel. The U.S. gauge settled at its highest level since October 2018.

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, a group known as OPEC+, on Tuesday agreed to continue relaxing curbs on oil production, signaling their confidence in improving oil demand and a drop in the global supply glut. Prices began rallying after a technical committee within the cartel on Monday confirmed forecasts for a rebound of six million barrels a day in world oil demand this year, according to people familiar with OPEC and its allies.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID Update – Biden Announces June Vaccine Push

President Biden on Wednesday announced plans to double down on his administration’s efforts to get more Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 by July 4th. Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, Biden said June will be a “national month of action” to get more Americans vaccinated by July 4, a White House official told NBC News.

The president outlined “an all-of-America approach” to his vaccine campaign, which will mobilize national organizations, community-based and faith-based partners, celebrities, athletes and other influential groups.  As of Tuesday, more than 162 million U.S. adults, or 62.8% of people 18 and over, have received at least one Covid vaccine, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 133 million U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Read more at CNBC


NYS Vaccine Update 

As of  Wednesday morning 10,744,805 (plus 29,692 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 9,186,551 are fully vaccinated (Plus 42,999).  In the Hudson Valley 1,142,413 (plus 3,604) have at least one dose and 963,473 (plus 5,329) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday June 1st.   There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,734. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,007
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: Not Reported

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.64%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.58%

Useful Websites:


Health Officials Trial Mix and Match Booster Shots

Federal health officials have started a new study exploring whether mixing different Covid-19 vaccines can prolong immunity and better protect people from concerning variants of the coronavirus. The new study will enroll adult volunteers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and give them booster doses of different vaccines, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Tuesday.

NIAID, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is leading and funding the study through a network of researchers who specialize in vaccines and infectious diseases. “Although the vaccines currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offer strong protection against Covid-19, we need to prepare for the possibility of needing booster shots to counter waning immunity and to keep pace with an evolving virus,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said.

Read more at the WSJ


Amazon Changes Employee Policies for Time Off, Marijuana

Amazon announced Tuesday it supports the federal legalization of marijuana, and that the company is revising a controversial workplace policy critics say has been used to keep employees working at a breakneck pace. The twin announcements, Amazon said, are aimed at reiterating the company’s commitment to being an attractive employer.

Positions subject to regulation by the US Department of Transportation will still include the marijuana test, Clark said, adding that the company will “continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident.”

Read more at CNN


JBS: Cyber-Attack Hits World’s Largest Meat Supplier

The world’s largest meat processing company has been targeted by a sophisticated cyber-attack. Computer networks at JBS were hacked, temporarily shutting down some operations in Australia, Canada and the US, with thousands of workers affected.

The company believes the ransomware attack originated from a criminal group likely based in Russia, the White House said. The attack could lead to shortages of meat or raise prices for consumers. On Wednesday Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told local media the Biden administration had been in contact with Moscow to discuss the cyber-attack.

Read more at The BBC


New York’s Realities of Single Payer Group Launches Ads

The Advocacy Group launched  different sets of digital advertisements Tuesday. All of the ads link to a page with a Call to Action, similar to what they have been using but with messaging tailored to each ad.

The first set of ads emphasizes the $250 billion+ in taxes required under a Single Payer health plan and the mystery surrounding the tax brackets and just how much exactly every individual and business would end up having to pay. These ads will appear on Facebook and across a wide array of websites via Google. Realities will also have an exclusive sponsorship in the Politico NY Health newsletter next week.

View the ads on Vimeo


Worker Shortage Crisis Is Focus Of New Campaign By U.S. Chamber

Saying that, “The worker shortage is real—and it’s getting worse by the day,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their Chamber of Commerce Foundation today announced the launch of America Works, a nationwide initiative designed to mobilize industry and government to immediately address the deepening worker shortage crisis in the U.S.

To help address the worsening crisis, the Chamber is calling for:

  • A suite of legislative and regulatory solutions at the federal and state level that would eliminate barriers to work for Americans, invest in skills and job training, and reform America’s broken, outdated immigration system.
  • Doubling the cap on employment-based visas, doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas and implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system to help employers meet the need for high-demand jobs in labor-strapped sectors.
  • Growing federal investments in employer-led job education and training programs.

Read more at Forbes


ILO: Jobs Lost to the Pandemic Will Take Years to Return

Global employment will take years to return to prepandemic levels, the United Nations’ labor organization said on Wednesday in a report that urged governments to build social protection systems to avoid the destabilizing effects of deepening economic and social inequality.

The pandemic wiped out around 144 million jobs last year, including a projected 30 million new jobs that would have been created, the International Labor Organization said in its assessment of employment and social trends. The organization expects to see significant growth in employment starting in the second half of 2021, but “this will be uneven and not enough to repair the damage caused by the crisis,” Guy Ryder, the organization’s director general, said in an interview.

Read more at the New York Times


Fortune 500 – Some Other Interesting Facts

  • The five most valuable companies on the list were all tech titans, with Apple (No.4) leading the pack with its $2 trillion valuation. Four of the five are valued at over $1 trillion.
  • Revenues of the 500 totaled $13.8 trillion, which was down 3% from a year earlier. Profits were down 30%.
  • There were 41 female CEOs leading companies on the list, up 4 from last year. Karen Lynch of CVS (No.4) took the top.
  • California and New York tied for the most companies on the list, with 53 each—although the California companies were runaway favorites in revenues, profits, and market valuation. Texas came in third, with 49 companies.
  • The revenue threshold for getting on the list this year was $5.4 billion.

You can explore the full list here


 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 316

ISM – Good News

Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 61.2 in May, up from 60.7. “The headline index indicates expansion for the 12th month in a row. ISM said, the past relationship between the Manufacturing PMI and the overall economy indicates that the Manufacturing PMI for May (61.2 %) corresponds to a 5.2% increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis.”

Looking at some details, new orders rose from 64.3 to 67.0. Production dropped from 62.5 to 58.5. Employment dived from 55.1 to 50.9. Supplier deliveries rose from 75.0 to 78.8. Inventories rose from 46.5 to 50.8. Prices dropped from 89.6 to 88.0.

Read more at Reuters


ISM – Bad News

Soaring prices and widespread shortages of parts, materials and labor threaten to undercut fast-growing American manufacturers and throw up a roadblock to a U.S. economy still recovering from the coronavirus.  In short, the most pressing problem in the manufacturing sector isn’t a lack of demand, it’s the ability to meet demand,” said chief economist Richard Moody of Regions Financial.

“Worker absenteeism, short-term shutdowns due to part shortages, and difficulties in filling open positions continue to be issues that limit manufacturing-growth potential,” said Timothy Fiore, chairman of the ISM survey.

Read more at MarketWatch


Eurozone Inflation Surges 

Eurozone inflation surged beyond the European Central Bank’s just below 2 percent target in May to hit its highest level in almost three years. Annual inflation rose to 2 percent in May from 1.6 percent in April, driven by a sharp rise in energy prices. Inflation pressures varied significantly across the region, with prices accelerating to 3.1 percent in Estonia while falling 1.1 percent in Greece.

Pressures in the manufacturing pipeline are set to push prices up further in the months ahead, eurozone manufacturing PMI data showed earlier today. Survey results, based on responses from around 3,000 companies across the region, showed that average input costs again rose substantially, with the rate of inflation hitting an unprecedented level in line with widespread product shortages.

Read more at Politico EU


Eurozone, UK PMI Set Records

Final IHS Markit manufacturing PMI readings for May showed activity in the euro zone hitting a record high 63.1, up from 62.9 in April and exceeding an initial flash estimate of 62.8. In the U.K., factory activity rose to 65.6 in May from 60.9 in April, its sharpest increase since records began, as a windfall of new orders drove the country’s industrial resurgence.

The European Commission on Monday proposed that vaccinated tourists should be exempted from mandatory testing or quarantine measures when travelling between EU nations, urging a progressive easing of travel restrictions to accommodate rising Covid-19 inoculations.

Read more at CNBC


US COVID Update – Moderna Vaccine, Memorial Day Travel

Moderna says it has begun the process to win full U.S. regulatory approval for the use of its COVID-19 vaccine in adults. Moderna announced Tuesday it has begun a “rolling submission” to the Food and Drug Administration of data from its studies of the two-dose vaccine. Moderna’s vaccine already has been cleared for emergency use by the FDA and regulators in numerous other countries. So far, more than 124 million doses have been administered in the United States.

The Memorial Day weekend produced the two busiest days for U.S. air travel since early March 2020. About 1.96 million people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Friday, and 1.90 million did so on Monday, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Read more The Daily Progress


NYS Vaccine Update – 57.1% of NYS Adults Completely Vaccinated

As of  Tuesday morning 10,715,113 (plus 14,738 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 9,143,552 are fully vaccinated (Plus 23,828).  In the Hudson Valley 1,138,809 (plus 1,455) have at least one dose and 958,144 (plus 2,229) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update – 7-Day Average Percent Positive 0.65%

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday May 31st.   There were 8 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,723. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,032
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: Not Reported

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.65%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.60%

Useful Websites:


Job Searches Rise in States Ending Extended and Enhanced Unemployment Benefits

The threat of losing unemployment benefits in two dozen states had a modest but short-lived effect on job search activity, according to an analysis published Thursday by job site Indeed. At least 24 states have announced their early withdrawal from pandemic-era unemployment programs since early May.

Job searches jumped by 5% the day each state announced its intent to pull out of the federal programs, according to Indeed data. (The increase is an average relative to the national trend.)

Read more at CNBC


Covid-19 Treatment From Vir, GlaxoSmithKline Is Authorized

A monoclonal antibody drug to treat early Covid-19 infections has been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Vir Biotechnology Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC, makers of the drug. The drug, called sotrovimab, is the third antibody medicine authorized to treat patients early in the course of disease who are at high risk of developing severe cases.

Vir and Glaxo said in March that a study of the drug had been stopped early because it was shown to be highly effective, reducing hospitalizations or death by 85%, compared with a placebo.

Read more at the WSJ


WHO and Variant Names

Naming new COVID variants after countries can lead to stigmatization, and normal humans can’t remember the numbers and dots, so the WHO has come up with a new naming system, based on Greek letters, with the sequence matching the order of discovery. Here’s the guide: U.K./B.1.1.7 is now the Alpha variant, South Africa/B.1.351 is now Beta, Brazil/P.1 is now Gamma, and India/B.1.617.2 is now Delta.

The decision to go for this naming system came after months of deliberations with experts considering a range of other possibilities such as Greek Gods, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen who was involved in the talks.

Read more at The Guardian


H-1B Visa Process Faces Scrutiny and Uncertainty

The overall number of H-1B applications appears to be up this year. Those who submitted lottery registrations but have not been notified of results can continue to hold out hope: USCIS has indicated potential for many of the allotted numbers going unused (due to denials and even some who may have violated the prohibition against filing more than one registration by each employer per worker). An announcement of a second-chance drawing from the pool of March applicants is expected soon; last year, it was held in July.

Further, there are reasons to believe there could be changes going forward. The 2020 ban on H1-B skilled workers and certain other temporary visas has expired, an encouraging sign for the H1-B program overall.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Boeing Halts 787 Deliveries as FAA Considers Inspection Methods

Boeing said Friday it was working to address questions about its 787 Dreamliner from US air safety regulators after again suspending new deliveries of the jet.

The questions concern the inspection method for new planes following production problems that led to an earlier pause in deliveries. With approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing had resumed deliveries of the widebody Dreamliner in March after a five-month halt.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Top IT Security Terms Everyone Should Know

It’s every business user’s responsibility to protect their computers and data from cyberattacks. The good news is that you don’t need to be an IT security expert to keep them safe. You can start increasing your knowledge by learning some of these basic cybersecurity terms.

Read more at Hudson Valley IT


China Allows its Citizens to Have a Third Child

China’s government had persuaded its married couples that “one child is enough”. Then, in 2016, it allowed parents to give birth to a second. Now they may at last have a third. On May 31st, at a meeting of the ruling Politburo led by Xi Jinping, the country’s most senior officials decreed that a further relaxation of birth-control regulations would help China to fulfil its goal of “actively coping with an ageing population”.

The Communist Party still struggles to admit that its birth-control policies have been ill-conceived. From the 1970s, most of China’s decline in fertility was caused by urbanization, education campaigns and women’s greater participation in the workforce—the same forces that caused declines in other developing countries that had no brutally enforced birth quotas. China has also ended up with at least 30m more men than women because of sex-selective abortions and even infanticide to which some desperate parents resorted under the one-child policy.

Read more at Fortune


 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 315

First Biden Budget Retains Trump-Era Business Tax Break

Owners of closely held businesses would still get a 20% tax deduction under President Biden’s tax plan, leaving high-income people who run construction companies and manufacturing firms benefiting—for now—from a provision that Republicans created in 2017 over Democratic opposition.  The deduction went untouched in the first $2.4 trillion worth of net tax increases that were detailed by the Biden administration on Friday.

The break comes with some limits for high-income households, defined as individuals with taxable income above $164,900 or married couples with income above $329,800 this year. In those income groups, service businesses such as law firms and medical practices aren’t eligible, the idea being that their income is more akin to wages, not business ownership.


U.S. Core Capital Goods Orders, Shipments Increase Strongly in April

New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods increased more than expected in April and shipments rose solidly, suggesting strong momentum in business spending on equipment growth persisted early in the second quarter. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, jumped 2.3% last month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. These so-called core capital goods orders increased 1.6% in March.

Business investment on equipment has enjoyed double-digit growth over the last three quarters thanks to a shift in demand towards goods from services during the COVID-19 pandemic and massive fiscal stimulus to soften the blow to the economy from the public health crisis.

Read more at Reuters


EEOC Guidance: Employers Can Require Covid-19 Vaccine

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued updated guidance stating that federal laws don’t prevent an employer from requiring workers to be vaccinated.

However, in some circumstances, federal laws may require the employer to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who, because of a disability or a religious belief, aren’t vaccinated. For example, the EEOC said as a reasonable accommodation, an unvaccinated employee entering the workplace might wear a face mask, work at a social distance or be given the opportunity to telework.


The Economist: Assessing the Theory that COVID-19 Leaked from a Chinese Lab

It is possible that the chain of infections which spread sars-cov-2 around the world began, as most new diseases do, when an animal virus found its way unaided into humans, whether in field or farm, cave or market. It is also possible that the chain began in a Chinese government laboratory. These two possibilities have been recognized by many of those studying the covid-19 pandemic for a long time. But the fact that two things are both possible does not mean they are equally likely.

For most of 2020 scientists and the media tended to treat the likelihood of a leak from a lab as a very small one, with everyday contact—“zoonotic spillover”—overwhelmingly more probable. That has now changed. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said in March that assessment of the laboratory hypothesis had not yet been extensive enough.

Read more at The Economist


US Vaccine Rollout – Memorial Day Weekend First “Normal” Holiday Since Pandemic

With coronavirus cases dropping and 50% of American adults fully vaccinated, Memorial Day weekend figures to be a test of whether the U.S. can avoid the spikes in infections and hospitalizations that occurred amid, and after, the winter holidays before vaccines were widely available. 

More than 37 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and Monday – a 60% jump compared to last year, but still 6 million people fewer than the pre-pandemic Memorial Day weekend in 2019, according to AAA. 

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine Update 

As of  Monday morning 10,700,375 (plus 21,535 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 9,119,724 are fully vaccinated (Plus 29,082).  In the Hudson Valley 1,137,354 (plus 1,923) have at least one dose and 955,915 (plus 2,066) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday May 31st.   There were 18 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,715. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,032

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.67%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.63%

Useful Websites:


OECD Raises Growth Forecasts

The global economy is set to grow 5.8% this year and 4.4% next year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said, raising its estimates from 5.6% and 4.0% respectively in its last forecasts released in March.

The global economy has now returned to pre-pandemic activity levels, but has not yet achieved the growth expected prior to the global health crisis, the OECD said in its latest Economic Outlook publication. “The world economy is currently navigating towards the recovery, with lots of frictions,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone said in an editorial to the Outlook.

Read more at CNBC


GM Restarting Some Plants Hit by Chip Shortages

GM said it is restarting operations at four plants in the United States, Mexico and Canada starting this week. Two plants in Mexico – San Luis Potosi Assembly and Ramos Assembly – that build the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Blazer will resume production on May 31.  GM will also resume full production on May 31 at its Bupyeong 1 Assembly in South Korea, which produces the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Buick Encore GX and has been operating at 50% capacity since April 26, and return the Changwon assembly plant to two shifts.

GM’s CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, that builds the Equinox will resume production earlier than expected on June 14 and run through July 2. The plant has been idled since February 8. Lansing Grand River will restart production of the Chevrolet Camaro earlier than expected on June 21. The plant has been down since May 10.

Read more at Yahoo


DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This temporary guidance was set to expire May 31, 2021. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended the Form I-9 requirement flexibilities from June 1 to August 31, 2021.

Employers must monitor the DHS and ICE’s Workforce Enforcement announcements about when the extensions end and normal operations resume.

Read more at E-Verify


Positive Marijuana Tests Are Up Among U.S. Workers

The proportion of U.S. workers who tested positive for marijuana in urine climbed higher in 2020 while the overall share of positive drug tests plateaued last year, according to Quest Diagnostics Inc., DGX -0.02% one of the largest drug-testing laboratories in the U.S. About 2.7% of the approximately seven million drug tests Quest conducted on behalf of employers came back positive for marijuana—up from 2.5% in 2019 and 2% in 2016.

Overall, the percentage of working Americans testing positive for any drug was 4.4%, little changed from 2019, when the rate of positive urine-based drug tests hit its highest level in 16 years. Though federal and state data indicate drug overdoses and abuse have risen during the pandemic, Quest officials say that isn’t captured in their data because many overdose victims likely weren’t subject to workplace drug testing last year.

Read more at the WSJ


Jobless Claims: Initial Filings Fell for a Fourth Straight Week, Continuing Benefits Remain High

Initial unemployment claims fell for a fourth straight week to set a new 14-month low as the labor market recovery made further strides toward recovering jobs lost during the pandemic.

Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended May 22: 406,000 vs. 425,000 expected and 444,000 during the prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended May 15: 3.642 million vs. 3.680 million expected and a revised 3.738 million during the prior week

Read more at Yahoo Finance


GM and Lockheed Martin to Collaborate on Next Moon Transport

In a joint statement May 26, Lockheed Martin Corp. and General Motors Co. announced they would be working together to develop a new generation of Moon-ready vehicles as part of NASA’s Artemis program. According to NASA, its next trek to the Moon will involve robotic rovers that will prepare for human landings and enhance the range of scientific experiments as well as Lunar Transport Vehicles (LTVs) capable of carrying astronauts.

Lockheed Martin will lead the team, the companies say, while GM will leverage its battery-electric technology and its history in lunar-vehicle development: The Detroit, Michigan-based automaker helped develop the chassis and wheels for the rover used in Apollo’s 15-17 missions.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Survey: Concerns About Missing Work Preventing People From Being Vaccinated

A study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 48% of people are worried “they might have to miss work if the side effects of the vaccine make them feel sick…” To alleviate these concerns, the New York State Department of Labor will issued guidance Thursday to all employers advising that any recovery period after a COVID-19 vaccination is covered by New York’s paid sick leave law.

This should ensure that any employee will be paid in the case that time off is needed to recover from COVID-19 vaccine side effects.


 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 314

GOP Senators Ready $1T Infrastructure Counteroffer – Funded By COVID Relief Money – to Biden

Senate Republicans revived negotiations over President Joe Biden’s sweeping investment plan, preparing a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal that would be funded with COVID-19 relief money as a counteroffer to the White House ahead of a Memorial Day deadline toward a bipartisan deal.

The Republicans said Tuesday they would disclose details of the new offer by Thursday, sounding upbeat after both sides had panned other offers. At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki declined to address the new plan but said: “We expect this week to be a week of progress.”

Read more at the AP


Siena Poll: 49% of Voters do not Support Cuomo Resignation

A plurality of voters in New York do not think Gov. Andrew Cuomo should resign from office as he faces a barrage of controversies over the last five months, a Siena College poll released on Monday found. The poll shows 49% of voters do not support the governor’s resignation; 41% of those surveyed do. 

In a generic Democrat vs. Republican 2022 gubernatorial matchup, the poll Democrat governor leads 55-29%. When asked Cuomo vs. a Republican, voters side with Cuomo 48-38%. And when asked Attorney General Letitia James vs. a Republican, voters favor James 46-29%.

Read more at News10


Vaccine Makers Press Countries to Oppose Patent Waiver

Since the Biden administration threw its support behind the waiver proposal early this month, pharmaceutical industry trade groups have been moving to support Germany, Japan and other countries that expressed opposition, people familiar with the lobbying said. The industry lobbyists have told the governments, in meetings and phone calls, that a waiver wouldn’t address shortages any time soon, while straining raw material supplies, the people said.

The proposal to waive the Covid-19 vaccine patents threatens to undermine a pillar of the drug industry’s business model: the patents protecting its innovations and giving companies a monopoly over sales of the medicines based on the technology for several years.

Read more at the WSJ


Biden Calls for Intelligence Report on Origins of Covid-19

President Biden ordered a U.S. intelligence inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, following renewed scrutiny on the possibility that the outbreak of the virus might have started with a laboratory leak in China.  The White House has come under pressure to carry out its own investigation after China told the World Health Organization that it considered Beijing’s part of the investigation complete, calling for efforts to trace the virus’s origins to shift into other countries.

Mr. Biden, who wants a report within 90 days, said that U.S. intelligence has focused on two scenarios—whether the coronavirus came from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident. He said that there is a split among officials in the American intelligence community, or IC, on how the virus might have emerged.

Read more at the WSJ


US Vaccine Rollout – Half of U.S. Adults Are Fully Vaccinated

More than 129 million people in the U.S. 18 years and older have been vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Inoculation of half of adults indicates the country’s vaccination campaign has left behind the supply constraints and other problems that marred its start. It comes as Covid-19 cases and deaths drop, which infectious-disease specialists attribute partly to immunizations. “I remain cautious and hopeful they will continue to trend downward as vaccinations scale up,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine Update – Scholarships for Vaccinated Teens

Governor Cuomo Yesterday announced the ‘Get a Shot to Make Your Future’ incentive for 12- to 17-year-olds to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Participants can enter into a random prize drawing and potentially receive a full scholarship to a SUNY or CUNY college beginning May 27. Winners receive a full scholarship to any public college or university, including tuition and room and board. New York State will administer the random drawing and select 10 winners a week over five weeks for a total of 50 winners. Federal COVID-19 relief and outreach funds will be used to cover the cost of this vaccination incentive program.

As of  Wednesday morning 10,486,657 (plus 52,886 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,888,842 are fully vaccinated (Plus 52,715).  In the Hudson Valley 1,115,527 (plus 5,413) have at least one dose and 933,243 (plus 5,760) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday May 22nd.   There were 17 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,642. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,274
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: Not Reported

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,926
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 371

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.85%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.77%

Useful Websites:


Nearly 2.8 Million Sign Up for Vax-a-Million Lottery

Ohio deserves credit for finding a sharp way to do that. Today the Midwestern state announces the first of five winners of its “Vax-a-Million” lottery. Over 2.7m adults signed up for a weekly chance to win $1m, and 100,000-plus teenagers enrolled in the hope of winning a four-year college scholarship. Only part- or fully-vaccinated Ohioans were eligible.

Mike DeWine, Ohio’s governor, declares the lottery a success for boosting previously flagging demand for the jab, with a notable uptick among 16- and 17-year-olds. Ohio may have hit the jackpot: inspired by its example, Maryland, New York and Oregon have introduced similar cash lotteries.

Read more at WBNS (Ohio) 


Raimondo: U.S. Chip Funding Could Result in as Many as 10 New Factories

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Monday a proposed $52 billion boost in U.S. government funding for semiconductor production and research could result in seven to 10 new U.S. factories.

Raimondo said at an event outside a Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) chip factory that she anticipated the government funding would generate “$150 billion-plus” in investment in chip production and research – including contributions from state and federal governments and private-sector firms.

Read more at Reuters


McMahon: Financial Plan Shows the State is Rolling in Dough

New York’s budget is bursting with cash—fueling the biggest spending hikes in memory, as shown in the financial plan update released today by Governor Cuomo’s Division of the Budget.

The FY 2022 All Funds spending total of $209 billion—up 12 percent—includes recurring federal aid to programs such as Medicaid, plus special temporary federal funding approved in a series of enormous state and local coronavirus relief packages passed by Congress starting in March 2020. 

Read more at the Empire Center


Hudson Valley Labor Stats – Mfg Employment Up 14.2% Year on Year

The New York State Department of Labor yesterday released preliminary local area unemployment rates for April 2021. In April 2021, there were 59,600 unemployed in the region, down from 67,100 in March 2021 and down from 167,100 in April 2020.  Year-over-year in April 2021, labor force increased by 54,300 or 5.1 percent, to 1,116,400.

In April 2021 there were 40,900 people working in Manufacturing, up from 40.600 in March 2021 and up from 35,800 in April 2020.  Year-over-year in April 2021, manufacturing labor force increased by 5,100 or 14.2%.

Labor Market Profile (Hudson Valley)


Lordstown Motors Cuts Electric Truck Production Plans in Half

In a press release dated May 24, Lordstown CEO Steve Burns stated that the company has “encountered some challenges, including COVID-related and industry-wide related issues” in the lead up to production of the company’s Endurance electric truck later this year.

The company notes the costs were largely incurred in “higher than expected expenditures for parts/equipment, expedited shipping costs, and expenses associated with third-party engineering resources,” as the company attempts to build out its production facilities. Also notable are the company’s reported losses, which stand at a whopping $125 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Read more at The Drive


Labor Shortage Will Push Wages Higher, According To Bank Of America

Employers are desperate to staff up quickly to meet surging consumer demand, but some workers have been slow to return for a number of reasons including virus concerns, childcare constraints, early retirement and more generous federal unemployment benefits, BofA senior U.S. economist Joseph Song wrote in a Friday research note. According to Song’s analysis, wage growth will be stronger in sectors that were hit hardest by the pandemic—including construction, real estate and hotels and food service. 

It’s already clear some workers are holding out for higher pay before they reenter the workforce: The average self-reported reservation wage—the lowest wage a worker says they will accept to start a new job—has grown 21% since the fall for people earning less than $60,000 per year, according to data from the New York Fed.

Read more at Forbes


Cargo Activity Keeps Stewart Busy

The pandemic all but decimated the airline industry over the last more than a year and that is evident by the loss of over 81 percent of passengers at New York Stewart International Airport in 2020. 

On the air cargo side of operations, the situation is much different, Stewart Business Development Director Mike Torelli told the advisory Stewart Airport Commission on Tuesday. “On both the freight and the mail that is a total of 57,223 tons for the year, which is a high for Stewart Airport and also a 40 percent increase over the previous year, and those preliminary numbers for the first couple of months (of this year) continue to go up,” he said.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Biden Global Tax Proposal Faces Setback after Ireland Objects

US President Joe Biden’s push to get major economies to agree on a 15 percent minimum tax rate for multinational corporations has hit turbulence after Ireland’s finance minister expressed “significant reservations” about the plan. “We do have really significant reservations regarding a global minimum effective tax rate status at such a level that it means only certain countries, and certain size economies can benefit from that base — we have a really significant concern about that,” Donohoe told Sky News.

The objection carries weight because Ireland hosts an outsized number of technology and pharmaceutical firms that were attracted to the country for its lower tax rate. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


China Replaces Germany as UK’s Biggest Import Market

China has replaced Germany as the UK’s biggest single import market for the first time on record, partly fuelled by demand for Chinese textiles used for face masks and PPE, official figures showed.

Goods imports from China to the UK increased by 66% since the start of 2018 to £16.9bn in the first quarter of 2021, the Office for National Statistics said. Imports from Germany fell by a quarter over the same period, to £12.5bn. The European Union as a whole remains the largest trading partner for the UK.

Read more at The Guardian


 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 313

Biden Tax Increases Face Scrutiny

Democrats in Congress are showing some reluctance to embrace President Biden’s proposed tax increases. Biden’s proposal to increase the corporate tax to 28% from 21% hit a roadblock early on, with moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia saying he preferred 25%. Another element—a dramatic hike in the capital gains tax, especially for the wealthy at the time they inherit assets—has recently been subject to potential easing, with the staff of House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal floating options

The NAM is closely tracking tax proposals that would hurt manufacturers and at the same time advocating for the preservation of the 2017 tax reform law. A recent study conducted by Rice University economists for the NAM found that hiking the corporate tax rate to 25%, along with other tax changes, would lead to 1 million lost jobs in the first two years.


New York City Schools Will Fully Reopen With No Remote Option This Fall

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising a full reopening of the nation’s largest public school system in September. That means in person, five days a week, with no remote option for students to attend school exclusively online. 

De Blasio’s announcement comes a week after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced there would be no remote option for that state’s public school students come September. But questions remain about how New York City will be able to accommodate 100% of its public school students in person. Some administrators worry there won’t be enough space to fit all students in classrooms under current social distancing requirements. At a City Council hearing last week, officials testified that all but 10% of the city’s public schools could fit their students into classrooms 3 or more feet apart.

Read more at NPR


Moderna:  Vaccine is 100% Effective in Teens,Will Seek FDA OK in Early June

Moderna said Tuesday its Covid-19 vaccine was 100% effective in a study of adolescents ages 12 to 17, making it the second shot behind Pfizer’s to demonstrate high efficacy in younger age groups.

The company said it plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration to expand the emergency use of its Covid vaccine for teens early next month. If approved, it would likely dramatically expand the number of shots available to middle and high school students ahead of the next school year. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech were cleared to use their vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds earlier this month.

Read more at CNBC


The Wuhan Lab Leak —A Disused Mine Takes Center Stage

In April 2012, six miners here fell sick with a mysterious illness after entering the mine to clear bat guano. Three of them died. Chinese scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were called in to investigate and, after taking samples from bats in the mine, identified several new coronaviruses. 

Now, unanswered questions about the miners’ illness, the viruses found at the site and the research done with them have elevated into the mainstream an idea once dismissed as a conspiracy theory: that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, might have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, the city where the first cases were found in December 2019.

Read more at the WSJ


US Vaccine Rollout – Daily Doses Inches Back Up 

After more than a month of decline, the daily doses administered has increased for 5 consecutive days, back up to 1.7 million doses per day. The increase over the past several days is due to an increase in the number of first doses administered—up from 554,890 individuals per day on May 12 to 882,463 on May 19, an increase of nearly 60% over that period. Approximately 953,000 people are achieving fully vaccinated status per day, down from a high of 1.8 million per day on April 12. If this level of interest is sustained from the first to the second dose, we could expect to see an increase in the number of fully vaccinated individuals each day starting in the next 2-3 weeks, once second doses are administered.

A total of 164 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, equivalent to 49% of the entire US population. Among adults, 62% have received at least 1 dose, and 5.2 million adolescents aged 12-17 years have received at least 1 dose. A total of 131 million people are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 39% of the total population. .

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine Update – Free Park Passes New Yorkers Vaccinated This Week 

As of Tuesday morning 10,443,771 (plus 45,993 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,836,127 are fully vaccinated (Plus 49,432).  In the Hudson Valley 1,110,114 (plus 6,080) have at least one dose and 927,483 (plus 6,600) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday May 22nd.   There were 16 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,624. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,357
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: Not Reported

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,740
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 352

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.89%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.79%

Useful Websites:


NAM Manufacturing Town Hall on New CDC Vaccine Guidance

Please join the NAM this Thursday May 27 at 11am EST for a town hall discussion on the new CDC guidance for vaccinated individuals.

While the news that vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks or social distance in most circumstances illustrates positive movement in our efforts to defeat COVID-19, it is raising difficult and important questions for manufacturing workplaces. We understand companies are currently deliberating changes to operations based on state and local mandates and guidance from CDC, OSHA and the EEOC. This town hall will be an opportunity for NAM members to hear how other manufacturing companies are responding to the new guidance.

Register here


AstraZeneca, Pfizer Vaccines are Effective Against Indian Variant

A British study showed AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines to be effective against the so-called Indian strain of COVID-19. Already-administered vaccinations should mean around a third of people in the U.K. are already protected against this new variant, according to the government.

Public Health England’s new study revealed that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine provided 88% effectiveness against the B.1.617.2 variant, commonly known as the Indian variant.

Read more at Fortune


Employees Report Their Mental Health is Improving

In a May 2021 study of 2,000 employed adults in the U.S,  entitled ” Travelers Mental Wellness Checkup,”  a large percentage, 73%, described their mental health as being good or excellent. This was up from 67% in the early months of the pandemic.   

Part of the reason for these better numbers is based on the support employees felt from their employers:

  • About one in three workers who said their employer provides more than enough mental health resources also stated that loyalty to their employer increased (33%) compared to before the pandemic.
  • And 30% said their ability to manage stress improved (30%) compared to before the pandemic due to available resources.

Read more at EHS Today


CDC Study: Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Between Urban and Rural Counties

COVID-19 vaccination coverage was lower in rural counties (38.9%) than in urban counties (45.7%);  and disparities persisted among age groups and by sex according to a CDC Study conducted between December 2020 and April 2021.

Disparities in COVID-19 vaccination access and coverage between urban and rural communities can hinder progress toward ending the pandemic. Public health practitioners should collaborate with health care providers, pharmacies, employers, faith leaders, and other community partners to identify and address barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in rural areas.

Read the Study at the CDC


Allegiant Adds Savannah Service To and From Stweart

Allegiant Air starts operating flights between New York Stewart International Airport and Savannah, Georgia effective this Wednesday.  Flights were to begin in 2020 but were delayed because of the pandemic. Service will be non-stop to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.

Allegiant was the only airline serving Stewart that continued service all through the pandemic and that deserves special recognition, said Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus. On June 13, Allegiant will be adding another Florida city to its Stewart routes with flights to Destin-Forth Walton Beach Airport. They already fly to Orlando-Sanford, Tampa-St. Pete, and Punta Gorda-Ft. Myers. Allegiant also flies from Stewart to Myrtle Beach.

Read more at Mid Hudson News


CDC Study 2 – Spread Lower in Schools With Improved Ventilation

COVID-19 incidence was 37% lower in schools that required teachers and staff members to use masks and 39% lower in schools that improved ventilation. Ventilation strategies associated with lower school incidence included dilution methods alone (35% lower incidence) or in combination with filtration methods (48% lower incidence).

Mask requirements for teachers and staff members and improved ventilation are important strategies in addition to vaccination of teachers and staff members that elementary schools could implement as part of a multicomponent approach to provide safer, in-person learning environments.

Read the survey at the CDC


 

 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 311

Factory Activity, Backlogs Rise in First Half of May

IHS Markit’s flash US manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 61.5 in the first two weeks of May, the highest reading for factory activity since 2009.

According to IHS Markit “manufacturers highlighted that strain on capacity and raw material shortages are expected to last through 2021.” It noted that the supply crunch was raising production costs for manufacturers, who “made efforts to pass higher cost burdens on to clients.” The IHS Markit survey’s measure of prices paid by manufacturers rose to the highest level since July 2008.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


World Trade in Goods Rebounding Rapidly in 2021

Trade is picking up quickly. That’s according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which released data May 19 on global trade, which it found has already returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The UNCTD report found that global trade increased by 10% on a year-over-year basis and 4% from the last quarter of 2020, mainly driven by exports from East Asian economies. Trade in goods has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels, though trade in services still has a ways to go to catch up.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Collins Notes ‘Fundamental Differences’ On Infrastructure Plans

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Sunday that Republicans and Democrats have “fundamental differences” when it comes to President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan. 

She added that there are “fundamental differences” in the parties’ definitions of infrastructure, a major point of contention among Republicans.

“I think negotiations should continue, but it’s important to note that there are some fundamental differences here, and at the heart of the negotiations is defining the scope of the bill. What is infrastructure?” Collins told Stephanopoulos. Collins added that she was glad that Biden was able to put a counteroffer on the table for the GOP but believes there’s already a bill on the Senate floor that covers what the infrastructure plan has. Collins said that, despite Biden’s counterproposal, the parties are still far away from working out a deal. 

Read more at The Hill


Vaccine Booster May Be Needed Soon

The first Americans who received their COVID-19 vaccines could need a “booster” shot as soon as September, the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna told Axios.

“The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months.” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during a virtual event with the news outlet on Wednesday. That means that those who received the vaccine early this year could require a booster shot in September or October to help protect against contracting, or spreading, COVID-19. 

Read more at The Hill


US Vaccine Rollout – 352 Million Doses Distributed

The US has distributed 352 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and administered 279 million. After more than a month of decline, the daily doses administered increased slightly on May 15 to 1.6 million doses per day. Approximately 1.0 million people are achieving fully vaccinated status per day, down from a high of 1.8 million per day on April 12.

A total of 160 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, equivalent to 48% of the entire US population. Among adults, 61% have received at least 1 dose, and 4.1 million adolescents aged 12-17 years have received at least 1 dose. A total of 127 million people are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 38% of the total population. Among adults, 48% are fully vaccinated, and 1.8 million adolescents aged 12-17 years are fully vaccinated. Progress has largely stalled among adults aged 65 years and older: 85% with at least 1 dose and 73% fully vaccinated.  

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine Update – 54% Of NYS Adults Have Completed Vaccine Series

As of Saturday morning 10,301,484 (plus 51,062 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,699,304 are fully vaccinated (Plus 58,686).  In the Hudson Valley 1,096,702 (plus 5,958) have at least one dose and 913,581 (plus 6,884) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday May 22nd.   There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,594. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,335
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 117

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,870
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 367

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.92%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.84%

Useful Websites:


PMI Data Hits Three-Year High; UK Retail Sales Soar

U.K. economic activity posted its strongest growth on record in May, according to flash PMI (purchasing managers’ index) readings published Friday. The IHS Markit composite PMI hit 62.0, its highest since the survey was launched in 1998 and up from 60.7 the previous month, as British services firms reopened following a prolonged lockdown period and manufacturers benefited from the global demand recovery. U.K. retail sales also jumped 9.2% in April, double the average projection in a Reuters poll of economists, official data showed Friday, indicating that pent-up consumer demand is beginning to kick in.

In the euro zone, business growth hit its fastest pace for more than three years as the vaccine rollout gathered pace and more businesses in the bloc’s dominant services sector reopened. The initial flash composite PMI came in at 56.9 compared to April’s 53.8. 

Read more at CNBC


Is the United States Relying on Foreign Investors to Finance Its Bigger Budget Deficit?

Although foreign investors were net sellers of Treasury securities last year, the amount of money flowing into the United States increased. The upturn in inflows, though, was quite modest as a surge in domestic personal saving largely covered the government’s heightened borrowing needs. How the reliance on foreign funds changes in 2021, when the government deficit will again be quite elevated, will depend on whether domestic personal saving remains high.

Read more at the NY Fed


20,000 Reservations for Ford’s New Electric F-150 Lightning  Pickup

Ford Motor has taken 20,000 reservations for its new electric F-150 Lightning pickup in less than 12 hours since the truck was officially unveiled to the public, CEO Jim Farley told CNBC. The reservations are being closely watched by the company as well as investors to gauge the interest of customers in EV pickups, which is an unproven segment that automakers are rushing to enter. They include Tesla, General Motors and several start-ups such as Rivian, Lordstown Motors and Canoo.

“The response has been great,” Farley said during an interview on “Squawk Box.” “With 20,000 orders already, we’re off to the races.”

Read more at CNBC


737 MAX Deliveries Are On Again

Boeing Co. has resumed deliveries of its 737 MAX series aircraft, following a one-month pause implemented when an electrical-grounding issue was discovered to be affecting some jets’ cockpit back-up power control unit, the units’ storage racks, and cockpit instrument panels. The electrical problems were determined to be rooted in production changes implemented after the previous, 19-month grounding that concerned the 737 MAX flight-control software.

Earlier this week Boeing released two maintenance bulletins concerning the electrical defects to the operators of 109 737 MAX aircraft discovered to have the electrical grounding problem. The FAA authorized the electrical updates, and it noted that the jets would require a simple repair before returning to service.

Read more at American Machinist


New Face-Mask Rules Put Grocery Workers Back at Center of Debate

Many supermarket chains have eased rules for wearing masks in stores since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on May 13 that fully vaccinated people no longer need to cover their faces indoors. Kroger Co. said it dropped mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers and employees starting Thursday, unless local rules dictate otherwise. Walmart Inc.,  Target Corp. and other grocery sellers have also lifted mask mandates for vaccinated people.

Now, some workers say the end of mask mandates has put them in a new position of having to explain their employers’ mask policies, manage anxious shoppers and assess whether unmasked customers are indeed vaccinated, all while potentially risking their own health. 

Read more at the WSJ


What to do About a Global Labor Crunch

As rich countries loosen lockdowns, an economic puzzle is emerging. Businesses are voicing ever-louder concerns about labor shortages, even as millions of people remain out of work. Some see news of worker shortages as welcome. If human labor is still in demand, then perhaps predictions of job-killing robots were wrong. Company managers are also having to work harder to attract staff. McDonald’s is boosting wages; England’s pubs are ditching qualification requirements; other firms are paying people just to show up for an interview. Underlying pay growth is strong, at more than 3% in America. A good thing, you might say. After a year of lockdowns, who would begrudge workers a rise?

That is to ignore the downsides of labor-market snarl-ups. A bidding war between employers could yet cause an inflationary spiral. And shortages ricochet around the economy. A builder that cannot find laborers will put up fewer new houses, in turn hitting decorators. Businesses that are still recovering from the crisis may face another financial blow.

Read more at The Economist


Sniffer Dogs are Learning to Smell the Coronavirus

As the disease swept the globe and scientists deployed tools such as polymerase chain reaction tests to detect the novel coronavirus in people, a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine worked to determine if dogs could also be trained to find infections.

The proof-of-concept study, published in April in the journal PLOS ONE, showed that the virus has an odor that trained dogs can identify in urine and saliva. Now, the researchers—with the help of Tuuka, Griz, Toby, Rico, and Roxie—are examining whether canines can sniff out coronavirus’ scent in sweaty T-shirts. If the dogs can accurately detect it on clothing, they could patrol places such as airports and stadiums to sniff out the virus in public settings.

Read more at NATGEO


 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 312

U.S. Covid Cases Hit Lowest Level Since June

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases have hit their lowest level in almost a year, according to data from Johns Hopkins, with about 39% of the population fully vaccinated, and with 49% of the population having received at least one shot—just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Of course, there’s a very different picture in other parts of the world

The decline of cases is a hopeful sign, especially as many Americans plan to travel, spend days at the beach and gather with friends and family over the summer. It is the latest in a series of milestones that signal a reopening economy and a gradual return to a more typical way of life.

Read more at CNBC


Why Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Is Facing Roadblocks

The infrastructure talks stalled after Republicans said the Biden administration’s Friday counteroffer to Senate Republicans didn’t go far enough toward the GOP position. If that stalemate continues, Democrats may attempt to move on their own, using budget reconciliation rules to pass a package without needing any Republican votes.

A partisan strategy wouldn’t guarantee that the entire White House plan could become law; Democrats have slim majorities in the House and Senate, and they would need to figure out just how much taxing and spending those lawmakers can accept.

Read more at the WSJ


Bosses Still Aren’t Sure Remote Workers Have ‘Hustle’

Recent remarks of numerous chief executives suggest the culture of workplace face time remains alive and well. At The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit this month, JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon said remote work doesn’t work well “for those who want to hustle.” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has called it “an aberration that we are going to correct as soon as possible.”

As homebound employees juggled caregiving, online schooling and other issues alongside their regular workloads in the past year, many companies reported that their workforces were productive and engaged. 

Read more at the WSJ


Report on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Covid-19 Origin Debate

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory.

The details of the reporting go beyond a State Department fact sheet, issued during the final days of the Trump administration, which said that several researchers at the lab, a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”  

Read more at the WSJ


US Vaccine Rollout – 130 Million Fully Vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday about 163.3 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 130 million people who have been fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

More than 61 percent of adults have received at least one shot. President Biden set a goal on May 4 of reaching 70 percent of adults by July 4.  Providers are administering about 1.83 million doses per day on average, about a 46 percent decrease from the peak of 3.38 million reported on April 13.

Read more at the New York Times Vaccine Tracker


NYS Vaccine Update – Free Park Passes New Yorkers Vaccinated This Week 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced that every person who gets vaccinated with either a first dose, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson, anywhere in New York State between May 24 and 31 is eligible to receive a free two-day pass to any New York State Park, valid through September 30, 2021. Passes can be picked up at any New York State Park. 

As of Monday morning 10,389,445 (plus 32,861 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,788,874 are fully vaccinated (Plus 34,514).  In the Hudson Valley 1,104,452 (plus 3,320) have at least one dose and 921,286 (plus 2,634) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday May 22nd.   There were 14 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,608. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,305
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 104

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,740
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 352

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.90%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.78%

Useful Websites:


Fauci: ‘Not Convinced’ COVID-19 Developed Naturally Outside Wuhan lab

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, is supporting an open investigation of the coronavirus origins, saying earlier this month he is “not convinced” it developed naturally. When asked about whether the virus originated naturally, Fauci said that he wants to look closer into the matter, according to Fox News.

“I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,” Fauci said, speaking to PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders at an event. “Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he continued.

Read more at The Hill


Survey: Vaccine Policy Not a Big Priority for HR Leaders

With COVID-19 vaccines now widely available and viewed as essential to ending the pandemic, one survey reveals some startling information about company plans regarding inoculations: Most HR leaders say they aren’t prioritizing vaccination.

That’s according to a survey of 412 managers and HR leaders from software firm TinyPulse, which finds that 53% of HR leaders report that COVID-19 vaccine policy is not a priority or is a low priority. Twenty-seven percent say it’s a medium priority, and just 20% say it’s a high priority. The finding is “shocking,” says TinyPulse CEO and founder David Niu, adding that an equally stunning number from the survey is that 14% of HR leaders surveyed said they are more likely to get a vaccine to go on vacation than to keep their job.

Read more at HR Executive


Call for Engineering Senior Design Projects from SUNY New Paltz

The Division of Engineering Programs is conducting a call for Senior Design Capstone project proposals for the 2021-2022 academic year. These senior design projects span two semesters and typically have a multidisciplinary team of 4 to 6 computer, mechanical and electrical engineering students.   The primary goal of the project proposal should be for  students to gain valuable practical experience while fulfilling your design needs.

They are looking for projects that will challenge students and provide them an opportunity to apply their technical knowledge to actual engineering problems. The final project will be presented at the Annual Engineering Design EXPO in May 2022. 

Read more at SUNY New Paltz School of Science and Engineering


Global Steel Output Growing Slowly

Global steel production rose to 169.5 million metric tons during April, slightly more than the reported total for March but +6.4% higher than the global tonnage for April 2020 – a period during which most of the world’s major steel-producing countries were observing industrial closures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The exception has been China, where steel production has continued without the shutdowns or reduced capacities implemented in North America, Europe, and elsewhere during 2020.

Last month the World Steel Assn. forecast that total 2021 steel demand will rise 5.8% over 2020, to 1.87 billion metric tons.

Read more at American Machinist


Baby Bust

Demographers predict that around the mid point of this century, deaths will officially outweigh births, sending the global population into longterm decline—for the first time ever. Falling fertility rates will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, the New York Times writes, and require huge adjustments in how our economies work. 

Read more at the New York Times


Sanders Slams Schumer Plan to Boost Semiconductor Industry

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday slammed a provision in Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) legislation to boost American competitiveness that would provide more than $52 billion to boost the semiconductor chip industry.

“No. As part of the Endless Frontiers bill we should not be handing out $53 billion in corporate welfare to some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the country with no strings attached,” Sanders, the Senate Budget Committee chairman, tweeted on Monday, referring to a centerpiece provision in the substitute amendment Schumer unveiled on the floor last week. Schumer said the funding would “boost domestic production and shore up critical supply chains.”

Read more at The Hill


Pallet Prices Up 400% Amid Shortage

Demand for pallets stems from retailers and grocers restocking their distribution and fulfillment centers, as consumers continue to spend on goods rather than services. Many firms have also built up buffer inventory, as a hedge against the stockouts that plagued CPG and retail supply chains last year.

Pallet suppliers and manufacturers — including Brambles, the parent company of CHEP — noted elevated demand from customers as they raised inventory levels.  “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the wood pallet industry has played an essential role in enabling our supply chain partners to meet the increased demand for products,” Brent J. McClendon, president and CEO of the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association, said in an email.

Read more at Supply Chain Drive


 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 310

Auto Industry Chip Shortage Remains Critical

The prices of used cars are soaring across America. One index of second-hand values published by Manheim, a used-car auction business, has surged by 61% since last April. A shortage of new vehicles is one problem, thanks to the world’s worsening shortage of semiconductors, which is crimping production. In America alone, carmakers shed 27,000 jobs last month as plants short on chips ground to a halt.

Yesterday Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, met producers of vehicles and semiconductors to try and ease the logjam.  The Biden administration also wants to spend $50bn to boost chip production at home to reduce reliance on imports. But it takes time to expand semiconductor production. The shortage could persist for years. 

Read more at the WSJ


The Fed Hinted it Could Reconsider Easy Policies if Economy Continues Rapid Improvement

Federal Reserve officials at their April meeting said a strong pickup in economic activity would warrant discussions about tightening monetary policy, according to minutes from the session released Wednesday. “A number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee’s goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases,” the meeting summary said. 

Markets have been watching closely for clues about when the central bank might start tapering its bond purchases, which currently are at least $120 billion a month.

Read more at CNBC


US Weekly Jobless Claims Sink to New Pandemic Low

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 444,000, a new pandemic low and a sign that the job market keeps strengthening as consumers spend freely again, viral infections drop and business restrictions ease. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that applications declined 34,000 from a revised 478,000 a week earlier.

The claims numbers suggest that employment is growing consistently. However, continuing claims edged higher, rising to 3.75 million, an increase of 111,000. Continuing.

Read more at PBS


21 States Dropping $300-A-Week Federal Unemployment Benefits

At least 21 states—all with Republican governors—are set to stop participating in the federal government’s supplemental unemployment benefits program, which provides an extra $300 a week to the jobless, as many Republican officials are claiming the payments disincentivize workers to get back on the job.

At a news conference earlier this month, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said it was “not clear” whether federal unemployment benefits were causing a labor shortage. But, in any case, Powell said that won’t be a factor for much longer because he expects the federal government will not extend payments past September.

Read more at Forbes


US Vaccine Rollout – 20 States Have Vaccinated More Than 50% of Adults

Over the past week, the number of individuals who have received at least one COVID vaccine increased to 159.2 million Americans according to data. Many of those newly vaccinated individuals are adolescents who became eligible for the shot last Thursday. In total, 47.9% of the population and more than 60% of adults in the U.S. have gotten one dose. Of those, 125.5 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 73% of seniors, 47.9% of adults, and 37.8% of the total population.

Overall, the nation has administered 277.3 million doses of the 349 million delivered. The vast majority of vaccines administered to individuals have been mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna; only 9.8 million individuals have received the Johnson & Johnson shot.

Read more at Fortune


NYS Vaccine Update – 62% of Adult New Yorkers and 51% of All Eligible New Yorkers Have Received at Least One COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

As of Thursday morning 10,174,323 (plus 94,412 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,4561,321 are fully vaccinated (Plus 87,474).  In the Hudson Valley 1,084,136 (plus 11,393) have at least one dose and 898,706 (plus 9,005) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update

The Governor  updated COVID data through Wednesday May 19th.   There were 18 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,542. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,490
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 124

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,960
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 383

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.02%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.91%

Useful Websites:


NYS Upstate United Single Payer Fact Sheet

In their latest “Troubling Trends” fact sheet, Upstate United highlights the  impacts of the New York Health Act. This extreme proposal would make private health insurance illegal and replace it with a one-size-fits-all program run by New York State government. According to the fact sheet the proposal would also lead to significant tax increases, widespread job losses and long wait times for health care consumers.

Read the fact sheet at Upstate United


Ports on U.S. West Coast Race to Clear Ship Backlog by August

The Port of Los Angeles handled 946,966 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in April, a spike of 37% compared to last year. It was the best April in the Port’s 114-year history, and the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Four months into the year, overall cargo volume has increased 42% compared to 2020. Since January, the Port of Los Angeles has processed 3,539,397 TEUs.

“Fewer ships are going straight to anchor, and of those that do, the wait time is decreasing as our labor force and supply chain partners adeptly handle the steady stream of cargo on our docks,” Seroka added. “This volume surge has resulted in additional work opportunities for dockworkers, truckers, warehouse employees and others.”

Read more at American Journal of Transportation


Senator Borrello Introduces Bill to End Extended Unemployment Benefits

The Bill “Directs the governor to withdraw from the federal pandemic unemployment compensation program and the mixed earner unemployment compensation program and to notify anyone who is receiving benefits through theseprograms that the benefits will end on the date of withdrawal.”

The Bill has little chance of advancing.

Read the Bill


Column: 5 Ways to Strengthen US Manufacturing

Any effort to strengthen US manufacturing and make it more competitive should include upskilling, new technology and equipment upgrades, among other steps, write Katy George and Eric Chewning of McKinsey. “The most successful manufacturing companies have defined learning journeys for different roles, and encourage employees to go above and beyond those journeys through continuous learning and exploration of areas of interest,” they write.

Read more at Industry Today


India’s Covid-19 Daily Death Toll Hits World’s High

On Wednesday, India reported 4,529 deaths in the past 24 hours, topping the previous high set by the U.S. on Jan. 12, when it recorded 4,475 deaths. It was the ninth time this month that India has recorded more than 4,000 deaths in a single day.

The rising death toll comes following a surge in cases that rose faster than any the world had previously seen, overwhelming the country’s healthcare system, with hospitals turning patients away and running short of beds, oxygen and Covid-19 medications.

Read more at the WSJ


European Union Set to Open Borders to Vaccinated Travelers

The European Union took a step toward opening its borders to vaccinated tourists, a move that likely means Americans and other non-Europeans will be allowed to visit the continent this summer.  The decision, taken Wednesday by ambassadors from the 27 EU member countries, must still be formally approved by national leaders, which could come as soon as tomorrow.

It isn’t yet clear exactly when tourists will be allowed to arrive, but it is expected to be very soon, an EU spokesman said.  The U.S. would need to be added to a list of countries from which nonessential travel to the EU is permitted. When that might happen is unclear, but the spokesman said the listed countries could be changed quickly if government leaders decide on it.

Read more at the WSJ


MTA Advances Project to Bring Metro-North Service to Penn Station

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that it has published the Environmental Assessment for its Metro-North Penn Station Access Project, which will bring Metro-North service to the west side commuter hub and add four new stations in the Bronx. 

“To be able to expand to another part of the Bronx and to help our customers more easily reach the west side of Manhattan and other employment destinations in the region is a major development and incredibly exciting for us,” said Catherine Rinaldi, president of Metro-North Railroad. “This project will give the East Bronx and all of our customers better transit options which translates to more economic and social opportunities for all.”

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


The Tokyo Olympics Are “Safe and Secure”, Insist Japanese Politicians

The Olympics are scheduled to kick off in two months. About 15,000 athletes and perhaps 90,000 hangers-on from some 200 countries are set to enter Japan. Many Japanese worry that they will be the losers: 60% would rather not hold the games at all.

Organizers insist the Tokyo Olympics can be held safely. They point to recent virus-free sporting events, such as the Masters, an American golf tournament. They aim to create bubbles around the Olympic village and competition sites, to isolate participants from locals. Though vaccination will not be mandatory for athletes, Mr Bach claims that 80% of those in the Olympic village will be vaccinated by the start of the games. Foreign spectators will not be allowed to attend. A decision on local spectators is expected in June.

Read more at The Economist


 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 309

White House Encouraged by Infrastructure Talks With Republicans

Republican senators and the Biden administration came to no agreement on how much to spend on a major new infrastructure package, or how to pay for it, in another negotiating session Tuesday.  “I would say there is progress but we still have a ways to go,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who led the presentation of a Republican counteroffer to the administration in Tuesday’s discussions, said after the talks. “They are digesting what we proposed and will react to that.”

Capito and a handful of other GOP senators met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo along with senior White House aides on Capitol Hill, in negotiations that followed a session hosted by President Joe Biden last week.

Read more from Bloomberg


By 2030, 2.1 Million Jobs Will Go Unfilled and Could Cost the U.S. Economy $1 Trillion.

A new study launched on May 4 by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) warned that if the skills gap persists, 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled in the U.S. by 2030. This could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion in 2030 alone.

There are nuanced differences in today’s environment that are important to understand, as they highlight some key challenges manufacturers face: sourcing, training, and retaining talent. The report highlights some key findings from the 2021 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute Manufacturing Talent study.

Read the Study at Deloitte


Companies Weigh Price Increases, Other Options as Costs Rise

Purchase prices for a range of products—from steel and copper to lumber and plastics—have gone up in recent weeks on the back of a resurgent U.S. economy. Bottlenecks around global production, supply chains and logistics are exacerbating the issue, resulting in shortages of key components such as computer chips.

Chief financial officers are facing a delicate balance as they weigh potential consumer-price increases against cost cuts and technology investments to respond to these inflationary pressures. Their course of action is dictated, among other things, by their industry, and by how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their businesses.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Updated Mask Guidance 

As Ethan Allen HR Services previously advised, New York state lifted its mask mandate Wednesday, shifting to federal guidance that will allow fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. 

Businesses are authorized to require masks and six feet of social distancing for employees and/or patrons within their establishments OR adhere to CDC guidance, which advises that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks or be socially distanced, but unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks and be socially distanced in most settings. The NYS Department of Health strongly recommends masks and six feet of social distancing in indoor settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown. ​

NYS CDC Mask Guidance Summary


US Vaccine Rollout

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday about 158.4 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 124.5 million people who have been fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Sixty percent of adults have received at least one shot. President Biden set a goal on May 4 of reaching 70 percent of adults by July 4. Providers are administering about 1.77 million doses per day on average,

Read more at the New York Times


NYS Vaccine Update – 62% of Adult New Yorkers and 51% of All Eligible New Yorkers Have Received at Least One COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

As of Wednesday morning 10,079,911  (plus 50,534 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,473,757 are fully vaccinated (Plus 65,540).  In the Hudson Valley 1,072,743 (plus 6,350) have at least one dose and 889,701 (plus 8,167) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday May 18th.   There were 21 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,524. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,521
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 119

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,967
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 374

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.06%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.93%

Useful Websites:


Ocean Carrier Shipping Times Surge in Supply-Chain Crunch

Only about 40% of container ships globally were on time arriving at ports in March, according to an analysis by Denmark-based Sea-Intelligence ApS, with average delays stretching to more than six days. The slowdowns improved from February, but remained far behind reliability levels of the previous two years, when more than 70% of ships arrived on time.

The delays around the world, the result of a large-scale restocking by businesses as consumer demand improves, are tying up vessel capacity, adding to a shortage of sea containers needed to move goods and sending shipping costs soaring as container freight rates rise at a historic pace.

Read more at the WSJ


Chip Crisis Gets Even Worse as Wait Times Reach Record 17 Weeks

Shortages in the semiconductor industry, which have already slammed automakers and consumer electronics companies, are getting even worse, complicating the global economy’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Chip lead times, the gap between ordering a chip and taking delivery, increased to 17 weeks in April, indicating users are getting more desperate to secure supply, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group. That is the longest wait since the firm began tracking the data in 2017.

Read more at Straits Times


US Cases Continue Decline

The U.S. reported more than 27,000 new cases for Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published early Wednesday. The data may update later. Tuesday’s figure was slightly lower than Monday’s revised total of 28,634, and marked the fourth day in a row that new cases were under 30,000. Not all states report data on new cases daily.

The seven-day moving average, which helps smooth out states’ irregular reporting schedules, was 32,032 as of Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data. The 14-day average was 35,520. Both figures have been steadily declining for a month now.

Read more at the WSJ


Ford Reveals New Electric F-150 Lightning Pickup During Biden Visit

Ford Motor previewed its new electric F-150 Lightning pickup earlier than planned during a visit Tuesday by President Joe Biden to the Michigan plant that will produce the vehicle.

The highly anticipated truck resembles the automaker’s current F-150 but has unique exterior styling such as a closed-off grille and light bar across the front of the vehicle that connects its headlights. Sitting next to a traditional 2021 Ford F-150, the electric pickup appeared to be about the same size with a smoother, more aerodynamic design.

Read more at CNBC


Bank of America will Raise its Minimum Wage to $25 by 2025

Bank of America (BAC) said Tuesday that it will raise the hourly minimum wage of its US employees to $25 by 2025. “It costs us a few hundred million dollars a year … but it’s an investment,” the bank’s CEO Brian Moynihan told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Tuesday, adding that It’s about maintaining a “great standard of living for our teammates.” Paying more also helps give employees a “career mindset” and ultimately breeds loyalty, he added. And that, in turn, is the way shareholders get paid back in this initiative.

It’s not the first time Bank of America has raised the minimum wage for its employees. In 2017 the bank raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Two years later the company announced it would lift that level to $20 over the coming two years — and did so ahead of schedule, with an increase that impacted more than 200,000 workers.

Read more at CNN


Beat It: Lowes, Target, TJX Exceed Expectations

Target reported EPS of $3.69 versus expectations for $2.25 on revenue of $24.2 billion versus an expected $21.81, while Lowe’s Q1 numbers showed EPS of $3.21 versus $2.62 on $24.42 billion, as compared to the consensus estimate of $23.86 billion. 

TJX, the parent of off-price stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of 44 cents a share, beating Wall Street’s consensus estimates at 31 cents a share. Sales of $10.09 billion were up 129% from last year’s pandemic-impacted period, and up 9% from the comparable quarter in 2019. Wall Street analysts had expected sales of $8.61 billion, according to FactSet.

Read more a Barrons


UK Inflation More Than Doubles 

British inflation more than doubled in April, the start of a likely climb in prices this year as rich economies recover from pandemic lockdowns, but one that the Bank of England hopes will prove temporary. That was a sharp jump from the 0.7% rise seen in March and marked the highest CPI reading since March 2020, driven by higher power and fuel bills as global oil prices climb from their pandemic lows of 2020.

April’s inflation reading was, however, only a touch above the 1.4% rise seen in a Reuters poll of economists and was still below the Bank of England’s 2% target.

Read more at Reuters


Schumer Introduces US Innovation And Competition Act To Make NY The Global Innovation & Semiconductor Hub

Yesterday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer filed the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which combines Schumer’s Endless Frontier Act, other bipartisan competitiveness bills, and $52 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to implement the semiconductor-related manufacturing and R&D programs authorized in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act and a program to support legacy chip production that is essential to the auto industry, the military, and other critical industries.

An additional $1.5 billion is provided for implementation of implement the USA Telecommunications Act that was also passed as part of last year’s NDAA to foster U.S. innovation in the race for 5G. This package of innovation bills will receive a final Senate vote in the days ahead

Read the act’s language here


 

 

 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 308

Beginning Today – New Mask Guidelines Begin, Capacity Restrictions End 

Beginning today, May 19th, fully vaccinated people will no longer be required to wear masks indoors or out in New York. Theaters and arenas can move to full capacity for vaccinated people, but with six feet of distance between non-vaccinated people. Individual businesses are still able to require masks for customers and/or employees.

  • The indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people on May 19.
  • The outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people is removed as of May 19.
  • The indoor residential gathering limit will increase from 10 to 50 people on May 19.
  • Large-scale indoor event venues will operate at 30% capacity starting May 19.
  • Beaches and pools can operate with six-foot social distancing, with the goal of to reopen to 100% capacity by July 4.

Read the reopening reference guide


What Should Your Business Do About the Changing Mask Guidance?

Council Associate member and friend Ethan Allen HR Services reports that  OSHA, responding to a huge looming question for employers, issued an announcement Tuesday referring businesses to the CDC’s new guidance advising that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or social distance in non-healthcare settings. But neither OSHA’s May 18 announcement nor the CDC’s May 13 release provide specific direction to employers about whether and how they should proceed when it comes to developing unmasking policies and procedures.

In light of the current state of the law, employers have three basic choices when it comes to masking policies for their workers: maintain full masking rules, require vaccinated workers to present proof of inoculation before being allowed to go mask-less, or ask employees to follow an honor system approach.

Read what you need to know about these three options


Pandemic Hit Less-Educated Workers Hardest, Fed Survey Shows

Three-fourths of U.S. adults reported doing at least OK financially in November 2020, a share that was unchanged from previous years, the Fed said Monday. But that finding masked significant divergences in economic well-being between workers who retained their jobs and those who were laid off, households with more education and those with less, and those who have children versus those without.

Among adults with less than a high-school diploma, 45% reported doing at least OK financially, down from 54% in 2019. Among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the percentage rose to 89% from 88%, the Fed said in its annual Survey of Household Economics and Decision making, which polls more than 11,000 individuals.

Read more at the WSJ


 

Meet the Four Kinds of People Holding Us Back From Full Vaccination 

The conventional approach to understanding whether someone will get vaccinated is asking people how likely they are to get the vaccine and then building a demographic profile based on their answers: Black, white, Latinx, Republican, Democrat. But this process isn’t enough: Just knowing that Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated doesn’t tell us how to get them vaccinated. It’s more important to understand why people are still holding out, where those people live and how to reach them.

After conducting a national survey of U.S. adults, The New York Times grouped people into distinct profiles based on their shared beliefs and barriers to getting the vaccine. In the United States, The Times used this approach to identify five distinct personas: the Enthusiasts, the Watchful, the Cost-Anxious, the System Distrusters and the Covid Skeptics.

Read More at the New York Times


US Vaccine Rollout

The US has distributed 345 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and administered 274 million. Daily doses administered* continues to decrease steadily, down from a high of 3.3 million on April 11 to 1.6 million. Approximately 1.1 million people are achieving fully vaccinated status per day, down from a high of 1.8 million per day on April 12.

A total of 158 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, equivalent to 48% of the entire US population and 60% of all adults. Of those, 124 million are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 37% of the total population and 47% of adults. Among individuals aged 12-17 years—including individuals aged 16 and 17 who were previously eligible—3.3 million have received at least 1 dose, and 1.6 million are fully vaccinated.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security 


NYS Vaccine Update – 10 Million First Doses

As of Tuesday morning 10,029,377  (plus 56,180 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,408,217 are fully vaccinated (Plus 69,540).  In the Hudson Valley 1,066,393 (plus 8,804) have at least one dose and 881,534 (plus 9,641) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update – 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday May 17th.   There were 17 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,503. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,585
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 137

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,842
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 376

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.07%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.93%

Useful Websites:


U.S. to Increase Vaccine Exports Amid Global Pressure

The Biden administration moved to sharply ramp up Covid-19 vaccine shipments to other countries, following calls for the U.S. to bolster efforts to curb the coronavirus globally as it rages unchecked in developing nations. An earlier pledge to export 60 million doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca PLC came with little sacrifice because that vaccine has yet to be authorized for U.S. use.

The U.S. now plans to share globally 20 million doses of vaccines produced by Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, all of which are being used in the U.S. President Biden said Monday that 80 million vaccine doses are expected to be donated by the end of June. Delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses will be contingent on a Food and Drug Administration review of product-quality standards, the White House said.

Read more at the WSJ


Education Partnership Formed Between GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Dutchess Community College

GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) and Dutchess Community College announced on Monday that they have strengthened their partnership by offering GF employees the opportunity to further their education at DCC in undergraduate and certificate programs with deferred billing options.  The option for deferred billing is a unique program that creates more opportunities for GF employees to pursue additional education, the company said. Employees can also further benefit through GF’s tuition reimbursement program. 

For DCC, partnering with GF brings experienced professionals to the campus, broadening the learning experience for current attendees and providing a pipeline of new students. As part of the partnership, a representative from GF will serve on DCC’s Electrical Technology Advisory Board.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Manufacturers Face Supply Shortages, Higher Costs

As the economy rebounds, companies are struggling with a shortage in raw materials, transportation congestion and higher prices, and large manufacturers have shifted to producing goods based on parts available instead of incoming orders or forecasts. According to the Logistics Managers’ Index, corporate supply chiefs do not see inventory, transportation and warehouse expenses easing for at least another year.

Further exacerbating the situation is an unusually long and growing list of calamities that have rocked commodities in recent months. A freak accident in the Suez Canal backed up global shipping in March. Drought has wreaked havoc upon agricultural crops. A deep freeze and mass blackout wiped out energy and petrochemicals operations across the central U.S. in February. Less than two weeks ago, hackers brought down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., driving gasoline prices above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2014. Now India’s massive Covid-19 outbreak is threatening its biggest ports.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Biden Administration Eyes Cybersecurity Funding After Hacks

The Biden Administration is intensifying its focus on cybersecurity spending after a wave of massive hacks, proposing new funding in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack this month.  Biden’s planned $100 billion broadband investment plan is also being presented as cybersecurity spending on the grounds that grant recipients will be asked to source from “trusted vendors.” 

In a statement on Tuesday, the White House laid out the cyber element of President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, including $20 billion for localities to harden energy systems and $2 billion in grants for energy grids in high-risk areas. The security of the U.S. energy grid has long been a worry for cybersecurity experts. Regional blackouts in 2003 and 2011 drew attention to the vulnerability of the power system and examples from abroad have also drawn concern.

Read more at Reuters


Beat It: Walmart, Home Depot, Macy’s Report Earning 

Walmart posted quarterly results yesterday morning that blew past Wall Street expectations, pulling in revenue of $138.3 billion (up 3% year over year) thanks to still-surging e-commerce sales and a boost from the latest round of stimulus checks.

Thanking the government stimulus program and expanding vaccine rollout for its own blowout quarter, Macy’s Tuesday reported a surprise profit of $126 million, or 39 cents per share—far better than the loss of 40 cents per share analysts were expecting and the $630 million loss in the same quarter last year.

Home Depot, also shattered expectations thanks to the “unprecedented demand for home-improvement projects” Home Depot earnings soared 86% to $3.86 a share as sales swelled 33% to $37.5 billion. Same-store sales sprinted 31%, with U.S. comps up 29.9%.u, up 4% and leading the Nasdaq’s morning gains.

Read more at Forbes


NY Per-Pupil School Spending Topped $25k in 2018-19

New York’s spending on public elementary and secondary education reached $25,139 per pupil during the 2018-19 school year, once again surpassing all states in the latest U.S. Census annual data.

The Empire State’s public schools spent 91 percent more than the national average of $13,187 per pupil—compared to gaps of 73 percent in 2008-09 and 45 percent in 1998-99, as illustrated by the chart below comparing the 20-year trends for New York and all states.

Read more at the Empire Center


Samsung Electronics Could Begin Construction of New U.S. Chip Plant in Q3

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) could begin construction of a planned $17 billion U.S. chip plant in the third quarter of this year with a target to be operational in 2024, a South Korean newspaper reported late on Monday.

Samsung is planning to apply an advanced 5-nanometer extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography chip-making process at the plant, which is expected to be in Austin, Texas, the Electronic Times reported citing unnamed industry sources.

Read more at Reuters


Surging Lumber Prices Weigh on U.S. Homebuilding

U.S. homebuilding fell more than expected in April, likely pulled down by soaring prices for lumber and other materials, but construction remains supported by an acute shortage of previously owned homes on the market.

Housing starts tumbled 9.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.569 million units last month. Data for March was revised lower to a rate of 1.733 million units, still the highest level since June 2006, from the previously reported 1.739 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast starts would fall to a rate of 1.710 million units in April.

Read more at Reuters 


FEMA’s


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 307

New York State to Adopt New CDC Guidance on Mask Use and Social Distancing for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that beginning May 19, New York State will adopt the CDC’s “Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People” for most business and public settings. Consistent with the CDC guidance, Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings will continue to follow State’s existing COVID-19 health guidelines until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

The State will authorize businesses to continue to require masks for all in their establishments, consistent with the CDC guidance. Unvaccinated individuals, under both CDC and state guidance must wear masks in all public settings.  The State Department of Health strongly recommends masks in indoor settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown. Mask requirements by businesses must adhere to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.

Read the press release


Empire Manufacturing Survey: Activity, Prices Paid, Employment All Grew at a Sturdy Pace

Business activity continued to grow at a solid clip in New York State, according to firms responding to the May 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index was little changed at 24.3.  

  • The index for number of employees held steady at 13.6, while the average workweek index climbed six points to 18.7, indicating ongoing gains in employment and hours worked.
  • Both price indexes reached record highs: the prices paid index rose nine points to 83.5, and the prices received index rose two points to 37.1.
  • The index for future business conditions was little changed at 36.6, suggesting that firms remained optimistic about future conditions. 
  • The indexes for future new orders and shipments also held at similar levels. The indexes for future prices paid and future prices received remained elevated.
  • Firms on net expect to increase employment significantly in the months ahead. The capital expenditures index came in at 25.7.
  • The technology spending index was 22.1.

Read more at the NY Fed


Identity Theft Cases Surged in New York in 2020

More than 67,000 complaints of identity theft were reported in New York State during 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). That was a record number, up 85 percent from the previous year and more than four times the figure of a decade earlier.

New York State has taken numerous steps in recent years to address identity theft, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison, and to require that businesses and State agencies safeguard private personal information. Each of us can and should take common-sense steps such as making sure to keep Social Security numbers confidential, and being careful to limit use of birth dates and other personal information in online communications — including social media. 

Read the report which includes recommendations to protect your identity


China’s Economy Slowed in April

“Year-on-year growth on all indicators dropped back last month. This partly reflects a less flattering base for comparison. But current momentum in output and consumption was also a bit softer. We think month-on-month growth will remain modest throughout the rest of this year as activity drops back to its pre-virus trend following the withdrawal in policy support,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.

Read more in the South China Morning Post


US Vaccine Rollout – CDC Begins Tracking Adolescents

An average of 1.9 million vaccine doses a day have been administered during the past week, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, slightly lower from a week earlier and down from an average of 3.4 million doses a day in mid-April. In all, 272.9 million doses have been administered, and 37% of the population has been fully vaccinated while 47.3% has had at least one dose.

U.S. public-health officials tried to address confusion about new masking guidelines released last week, reiterating that vaccinated individuals are at low risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 but leaving the future of mask mandates up to local jurisdictions and private businesses.  “This is not permission for widespread removal of masks,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Sunday on ABC. “We were going to get to the point in the pandemic where the vaccinated could take off their masks.”

Read More at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine Update 

As of Monday morning 9,973,197  (plus 32,322 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,338,677 are fully vaccinated (Plus 42,714).  In the Hudson Valley 1,057,589 (plus 3,371) have at least one dose and 871,893 (plus 4,730) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update – 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday May 16th.   There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,486. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,581
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 142

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,844
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 375

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.11%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.99%

Useful Websites:


Covid-19 Drugmakers Take On Your Favorite TV Shows to Tackle Vaccine Hesitancy

The advertising isn’t typical for pharmaceutical companies. Unlike most drug promotions, the ads aren’t aimed at gaining a leg up on competitors or boosting sales in the next quarter, the companies said. The goal is to persuade Americans to use potentially lifesaving products that are already bought and paid for by the U.S. government and provided free to consumers.

The campaigns more closely resemble those for launches of new drugs for diseases with few or subpar treatment options, such as the unbranded disease-awareness campaigns that hepatitis C drugmakers sponsored in the 2010s urging people to get tested for the liver disease. 

Read more at the WSJ


Health Officials Seek to Clarify Covid-19 Mask Guidelines – Still Required in NYS, Businesses Can Still Require for Employees and Customers

U.S. public-health officials tried to address confusion about new masking guidelines released last week, reiterating that vaccinated individuals are at low risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 but leaving the future of mask mandates up to local jurisdictions and private businesses.

The CDC’s recommendation has created confusion because it does not lift local mask mandates. States, municipalities and businesses can make the choice whether or not to follow it. There’s also no definitive way to track who has received a vaccine, forcing businesses to work on a sort of honor system.

Read more at CNBC


EU Backs Vaccine Manufacturing “Hubs”

The EU, which continues to oppose the idea of vaccine patent waivers as a means to boost production, is instead expected to back proposals that would establish strategic manufacturing hubs in Africa. Europe would put money into the initiative, while also helping to build up regulatory capacity through the establishment of an African Medicines Agency.

Read more at the Financial Times (Subscription)


Governments are Deploying ‘Wartime-Like’ Efforts to Win the Global Semiconductor Race

The reasons for the ongoing global chip shortage, which is set to last into 2022 and possibly 2023, are complex and multifaceted. However, nations are planning to pump billions of dollars into semiconductors over the coming years as part of an effort to sure up supply chains and become more self-reliant, with money going toward new chip plants, as well as research and development.

There is a push to build semiconductors in places such as South Korea, the U.S. and the European Union. Forrester research director Glenn O’Donnell: “In the ongoing battle for dominance in the technology field, all nations are jockeying for that all-important designation as the key supplier to the world…South Korea, Japan, the U.S., Taiwan, the EU, and China all covet that gold medal in the Tech Olympics podium.”

Read more at CNBC


Working Mothers Still Need Support to be Their Best

The workplace has improved over time for working mothers, but they still need support overcoming stereotypes and the twin demands of work and parenting, says reporter and author says Joann Lublin in this interview with John Baldoni. “And we need to talk about these issues before we have kids, after we have kids and while the kids are growing up, because our needs, their needs, our careers are all going to be in a constant state of flux,” Lublin says.

Read more at SmartBrief on Leadership 


NAM Sends Letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on USMCA Commercial Concerns

On May 14, NAM CEO Jay Timmons sent this letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai underscoring that “manufacturers have substantial concerns about recent steps by Mexico and Canada that violate—or threaten to violate—the letter and spirit of the USMCA and risk undermining the livelihoods of manufacturing workers and communities across America.” these concerns include energy generation, food labeling and slow-walking biotech approvals. 

Timmons urges Ambassador Tai to raise a series commercial concerns identified by the NAM in the letter at this week’s meeting and in subsequent discussions with Mexico and Canada.

Read more at the NAM


Volvo UAW Workers Reject Contract But Return to Work

United Auto Worker-represented employees at Volvo Trucks North America’s New River Valley truck assembly factory have rejected the company’s tentative agreement for a new five-year contract. According to the union, up to 91% of voting workers rejected the agreement’s common language and 83% voted against its salary language. Volvo Trucks and the UAW reported that union workers would still return to work as scheduled May 17.

In a statement, New River Valley VP Franky Marchand said, “We look forward to working with the UAW to resolve whatever the outstanding issues are, and we remain confident we will be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.” A statement from the UAW said “Members of UAW Local 2069 will continue working and go back to the bargaining table shortly.”

Read more at IndustryWeek


FEMA’s Covid Funeral Assistance Program is up and Running After a Rocky Start

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved more than 2,585 applications for newly available Covid-19 funeral assistance in the first month after the program launched. The agency received nearly 176,000 applications from those who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus as of May 11, FEMA said, and distributed more than $17.8 million so far, with the average claim coming in at $6,887.

To qualify, the death must have occurred in the US or its territories, and funeral expenses must have been incurred after January 20, 2020. The death certificate must indicate that the death was attributed to or likely caused by Covid-19 or coronavirus-like symptoms.

Read more at CNN


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 306

Global Manufacturing Soars, But Input Costs Soar at Fastest Pace
in 10 Years

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI rose from 55.0 in March to 55.8 in April, the fastest pace in 11 years, buoyed by growth in new orders, output and hiring, each of which was the strongest in at least a decade. Overall, manufacturers remain very upbeat in their outlook for production over the next six months. However, survey respondents also cited significant supply chain disruptions, with input costs soaring at the fastest pace since March 2011. The country-by-country data also reflected these larger trends, with robust growth in orders and output, but also in raw material prices.

Read the JP Morgan Global Manufacturing Survey


Manufacturing Productivity Crept Up 0.4% in April Despite Auto Bottleneck

The latest information from the Federal Reserve shows that total industrial production rose 0.7% in April. Manufacturing productivity, which excludes mining and utilities figures, rose 0.4 points after rising 3.1 points in March. Total industrial productivity is currently at 106.3% of its average 2012 levels and 103.2% for manufacturing productivity specifically. The latest release also indicates that previous gains were better than initially reported: The Federal Reserve reported May 14 that production in March rose 2.4%, a full percentage point higher than the earlier estimate.

According to the Federal Reserve, production figures were held back by continuing difficulty in the motor vehicles and parts sector. Automotive products, transit equipment, and consumer parts all recorded production losses, likely thanks to the ongoing shortage of semiconductors. The industry group index for automotive vehicles and parts fell 4.3%.

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

3 Incentives to Encourage Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

A recent McKinsey & Company report found that 63% of Americans are cautious about or unlikely to adopt COVID-19 vaccination, however experts estimate that about 70% of the population must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity status. As employers plan for a safe post-pandemic workplace, they have an important role to play in encouraging and educating their employees about COVID-19 vaccinations.

Here are three ways to incentivize your workers to get vaccinated

  • Cash incentives
  • Accommodations for vaccine appointments
  • Paid time off

Read more at the US Chamber


Indoor Mask Mandates Still in Place As New Yorkers Raise Concerns About New CDC Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely unmask almost everywhere–and the reactions in New York are mixed.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is currently deliberating over whether to change New York’s mask policy, which still indicates that everyone who can “medically tolerate” a face covering must wear one in public if they’re unable to distance themselves from others.  But Cuomo and his health team are mulling whether to add the new rules, which lift restrictions outdoors and almost anywhere indoors, except for public transit, medical settings like doctor’s offices, on planes, and in congregate living settings such as nursing homes and prisons. 

Read more at Gothamist


US Vaccine Rollout – CDC Begins Tracking Adolescents

The US has distributed 339 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and administered 267 million. Daily doses administered* continues to decrease, down from a high of 3.3 million on April 11 to 1.8 million. Approximately 1.3 million people are achieving fully vaccinated status per day, down from a high of 1.8 million per day on April 12.

A total of 155 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose, equivalent to 47% of the entire US population and 59% of all adults. Of those, 119 million are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 36% of the total population and 46% of adults.  The CDC added data for individuals aged 12 years and older to its vaccination dashboard, and in total—including individuals aged 16 and 17 who were previously eligible—2.5 million adolescents have received at least 1 dose, and 1.3 million are fully vaccinated. 

Read More at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine Update – State Reaches 50% With One Dose

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Saturday announced 50 percent of all New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “Our progress on vaccinations is remarkable, and with about half of all New Yorkers now having received at least one dose of the vaccine, we are steadily moving towards the light of the end of the tunnel.” The Governor said.

As of Sunday morning 9,940,875 (plus 48,177 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,295,963 are fully vaccinated (Plus 62,359).  In the Hudson Valley 1,054,218 (plus 4,908) have at least one dose and 987,163 (plus 6,586) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update – 42 Straight Days of Decline in  Posititve Test Rate 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday May 15th.  The individual 7-day average positivity of all three downstate regions — Long Island, New York City, and the Mid-Hudson — fell below 1.0% yesterday for the first time since September 3, 2020. There were 33 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,473. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,583
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 134

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,872
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 389

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.13%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.99%

Useful Websites:


NAM Study on the Effect of Increasing the Corporate Tax Rate

The NAM released a new study Friday that shows that proposed tax increases would inflict significant damage on the American economy.  The new analysis calculated the effects of increasing the corporate tax rate to 25%, increasing the top marginal tax rate, repealing the 20% pass-through deduction, eliminating certain expensing provisions and more. This study follows a previous NAM analysis of provisions that included a 28% corporate rate. The negative consequences would include the following:

  • One million jobs would be lost in the first two years.
  • The average reduction in employment would be equivalent to a loss of 500,000 jobs per year over the next decade.
  • By 2023, GDP would be down by $107 billion, by $169 billion in 2026 and by $89 billion in 2031.
  • Ordinary capital, or investments in equipment and structures, would be $70 billion less in 2023 and $70 billion and $51 billion less in 2026 and 2031, respectively. 

See the results at NAM


4 Cybersecurity Leadership Actions to Take Now

It’s been a season of harrowing news for U.S. cybersecurity. In December, we learned that a group of hackers—almost certainly Russian agents—infiltrated SolarWinds, a Texas-based IT firm, granting it access to nine federal agencies and a growing list of private companies. Then, in March, another breach: this time it was Microsoft, which announced that Chinese hackers had exploited vulnerabilities in their Exchange email servers, compromising hundreds of thousands of organizations’ data. Add to this the ransomware attack in May that caused the disruption of the largest energy-pipeline system serving the East Coast.

So what should businesses leaders understand about their role in this new era of enhanced cyber-vulnerability? Here are four lessons they can draw in light of the recent threats.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Emerging Variants of Concen

In this week’s WHO epidemiological update, the WHO designated the B.1.617 variant as a variant of concern (VOC). The WHO Virus Evolution Working Group has determined that viruses within the B.1.617 lineage, which contains three sublineages, to be VOCs because they appear to be more transmissible, less responsive to some treatments, and less susceptible to antibody neutralization. Additionally, animal models show the B.1.617 variant may cause more severe disease.

As of May 11, more than 4,500 sequences were added to the GISAID database and assigned to B.1.617 from 44 countries in all six WHO regions. At least 5 additional countries have reported detection of the variant. The B.1.617 variant was first reported last year in India and is possibly contributing to the current surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths there. Additional research is needed and ongoing to confirm characteristics of the variant, which is now the dominant strain in India. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


McDonald’s Wages Will Rise

McDonald’s announced it would raise wages, with the average hourly pay at restaurants the company owns rising to $13/hour (the full range is between $11 and $17 per hour.) The hikes come alongside comparable raises from Chipotle, and as a widespread labor shortage at current pay rates has dogged the food industry. However, the raises won’t be automatic at franchised restaurants. 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


April Local Sales Tax Collections Up Nearly 46 Percent From 2020

Local government sales tax collections in April grew by 45.7 percent over the same month in 2020, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced. Collections totaled $1.5 billion, up $464 million from April of last year.

Much of this spike in monthly statewide local sales taxes over last year reflects the extremely weak collections experienced by every region of the state in April 2020, when many businesses were closed. Even so, collections last month were quite strong: when comparing April 2021 to April 2019 (before the pandemic), they increased significantly, up 10.2 percent or $137 million.

Read more at the Comptroller’s website


Martian Rivalry: China Lands Rover, US Flies Ingenuity Helicopter

China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space. Plans call for a rover to stay in the lander for a few days of diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. It will join an American rover that arrived at the red planet in February.

NASA shared an amazing 3D video of its Mars helicopter Ingenuity’s third successful flight on the Red Planet. During the little chopper’s third test flight, on April 25, Ingenuity lifted off the Martian surface to a height of 16 feet (5 meters) and flew downrange 164 feet (50 m), hitting a top speed of 4.5 mph (7.2 kph) — its fastest speed yet. Using footage of the flight captured by the Perseverance rover, NASA engineers have rendered the helicopter’s record-breaking flight in 3D, creating the sensation of witnessing the event firsthand.


The Economist Model: Excess Pandemic Deaths Range from 7m-13m Worldwide

The excess-mortality method has failed to provide useful or robust global figures for the simple reason that most countries, and in particular most poor countries, do not provide excess-mortality statistics in a timely fashion. Global estimates have used the official numbers, despite knowing that the figure—currently 3.3m—surely falls well short of the true total.

To try to put numbers on how much of an underestimate it is—and thus on how great the true burden has been—The Economist has attempted to model the level of excess mortality over the course of the pandemic in countries that do not report it. This work gives a 95% probability that the death toll to date is between 7.1m and 12.7m, with a central estimate of 10.2m. The official numbers represent, at best, a bit less than half the true toll, and at worst only about a quarter of it. All told they collected data on 121 indicators for more than 200 countries and territories.

Read and view the interactive tool at The Economist (COVID coverage remains free)


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 305

PPI 6.2 % – U.S. Producer Prices Top Forecasts, Adding to Inflation Pressure

The Producer Price Index rose 0.6% from March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Year over year, the PPI spiked 6.2%, the largest increase since the agency started tracking the data in 2010.

The core PPI, which excludes volatile items like foods, energy and trade services, rose 0.7% in April from the previous month and jumped 4.6% year over year. The increase from a year ago was the biggest jump since 2014 when the department first calculated the data.

Read more at Bloomberg


CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Can Largely Ditch Masks Indoors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.  The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds. The announcement comes as the CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — people who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot.


 

Council Webinar TODAY, May 14th, With JPMorgan Chase Economist James Glassman

Inflation, Labor Shortages, Infrastructure, Supply Chains: Join us Friday afternoon for a discussion of these issues and how they will affect your business with JPMorgan Chase’s Jim Glassman, Managing Director and Head Economist for Commercial Banking.

Jim’s work with the firm—combined with his independent research on the principal forces shaping the economy and financial markets—has earned him regular features in the media and as an economic commentator. He is also a long-standing participant in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters and the National Association of Business Economists’ (NABE) panel of macroeconomic forecasters.

Register Here


Jobless Claims: Initial Filings Dipped to a Pandemic Era Low, Continuing Claims Remain High

Initial unemployment claims dropped more than expected to a fresh pandemic-era low, with new filings inching back toward pre-pandemic levels as more vaccinated Americans return to work and in-person activities. 

Here were the main metrics expected from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial jobless claims, week ended May 8: 473,000 vs. 490,000 expected and an upwardly revised 507,000 during prior week 
  • Continuing claims, week ended May 1: 3.655 million vs. 3.650 million expected and an upwardly revised 3.700 million during prior week 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


US Vaccine Rollout – Pace Improves, Averaging 2.2 Million Shots Per Day

After weeks of declines, the U.S. pace of daily vaccinations is improving in recent days. The country is reporting an average of 2.2 million shots per day over the past week, federal data shows, up slightly from the most recent low reported Saturday, when it dipped below 2 million for the first time since early March. 

While too early to say whether this recent uptick will turn into a steady trend, the data does show an increase in reported first doses, indicating that new people are entering a vaccination program.

Read More at CNBC


NYS Vaccine Update

As of Thursday morning 9,771,045 (plus 37,577 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,053,696 are fully vaccinated (Plus 80,787).  In the Hudson Valley 1,034,645 (plus 3,740) have at least one dose and 837,586 (plus 9,034) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update – 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Wednesday May 12th.  There were 22 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,389. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,852
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 156

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,947
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 385

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.25%
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.16%

Useful Websites:


Biden ‘Encouraged’ – Biden’s Meeting with Congressional Leaders on Infrastructure

President Biden on Wednesday said he was “encouraged” about the prospects of an infrastructure deal after meeting with top congressional leaders, even as he acknowledged the two parties remain at odds on how to finance a package. The issue of how to pay for the eventual package remains one of the biggest roadblocks to getting an infrastructure deal done. Still, Biden has remained optimistic even as the White House says it wants to see progress by Memorial Day.

Republican leaders say they told President Joe Biden on Wednesday that they’re drawing a “red line” on hiking certain taxes to fund the President’s infrastructure spending proposal, an anticipated hurdle that has arisen during a crucial week for the White House’s infrastructure priorities.

Read more at The Hill


Business Leaders Push for Infrastructure Deal, Minus the Corporate Tax Hikes

In private talks with dozens of business leaders, Biden administration officials are pitching the president’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal as an investment they will benefit from, emphasizing support for new job-training programs as much as better roads, officials and executives say.

Some have suggested alternative ways to fund infrastructure projects, while others haven’t offered specifics. Several executives and business groups have said they are eager for Mr. Biden to fulfill a pledge to seek compromise with Republican lawmakers—some of whom have proposed a narrower infrastructure package funded by gas taxes and other user fees, not corporate tax increases. Several Senate Republicans are meeting with Mr. Biden at the White House on Thursday to explore a possible deal.

Read more at the WSJ


Companies Are Increasing Mental Health Benefits

As one of the largest U.S. employers at 1.5 million, Walmart often sets the stage for policies, both in terms of business processes and workforce strategies. In the area of mental well-being, Walmart announced May 5 that it has expanded its mental health benefits by more than tripling (from three sessions per year to 10 sessions)  the number of no-cost counseling sessions that will be available to U.S. associates and their families.

The “emotional well-being” benefit, as the company calls it, includes help dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, grief, personal and professional relationships, family conflict, substance abuse, coping with change, parenting and more.

Read more at EHS Today


Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2020

For the 10th consecutive year, the most frequently cited violation of OSHA standards is fall protection, indicating that despite all of the protocols, procedures and equipment in place to protect workers from falls, this is still a major workplace issue.

In its reveal of the top 10 safety violations of 2020 (which for OSHA’s fiscal year encompasses October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020), the agency noted that while the order these standards appear on the list changed somewhat since the previous year, it’s the same 10 from 2019, according to Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs.

Read the list at OSHA.gov


Disney Results Offer Early Snapshot of Post-Covid Behavior

For the past 14 months, stay-at-home orders and closed entertainment venues lifted Disney’s streaming services to new heights. Disney+ in March passed the 100 million subscriber mark after just 16 months of operation, cementing its status as the most successful streaming entrant since Netflix Inc. defined the field years ago.  But last month, Netflix reported slower-than-expected growth in subscribers, as consumers headed out of the house—a vulnerability facing Disney as well. 

Disney’s quarterly earnings have lately provided a glimpse of a company at a crossroads. Covid-19 immediately shut down two of its core businesses—parks and movies—but also accelerated focus and investment toward streaming services seen by Wall Street as critical to its post-pandemic future. Good news about its streaming growth kept the stock price soaring despite steep losses seen in other divisions. However, summer travel and pent-up demand for live events could depress sign-ups at Disney+ and its other services in the months ahead.

Read more at the WSJ


US Asks Mexico to Probe GM Union Vote

The United States formally requested that Mexico investigate allegations of wrongdoing in a union vote at a General Motors factory, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Wednesday.  The request marks the first time any country has invoked a provision of the United States-Medico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and concerns a worker vote last month on whether to continue to recognize the union, an affiliate of the Confederation of Mexican Workers.  The Mexican government previously suspended the election following allegations the union destroyed unfavorable ballots and committed other chicanery.

GM said it would cooperate with both the US and Mexican governments on the probe. “GM condemns violations of labor rights and actions to restrict collective bargaining,” a spokeswoman said. “We do not believe there was any GM involvement in the alleged violations and have retained a third-party firm to conduct an independent and thorough review.”

Read more at IndustryWeek


Story


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 304

CPI 4.2 % – U.S. Inflation Climbs in April to the Highest Level in 13 Years

Consumer prices rose sharply again in March and drove the rate of inflation to the highest level in 13 years, signaling greater stress on the economy as businesses grapple with supply shortages that are raising the cost of many goods and services.

The consumer price index soared 0.8% in April to match the biggest monthly increase since 2009 , the government said Wednesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast a milder 0.2% advance. The rate of inflation over the past year jumped to 4.2% from 2.6% in the prior month — the highest level since 2008.

Read more at MarketWatch


Manufacturing Openings Hit Record High 706,000

The March record increased significantly from the 572,000 openings in February. Manufacturers are eager to ramp up production in reaction to strong demand, according to NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray, and the job postings reflect their confidence in economic growth.  

In what is another sign of confidence Moutray also points out that “the ‘churn’ in the labor market is often a signal of strength in the economy, and for that reason, it is important to look at quits. Workers do not quit their job if they are concerned about the economy, for instance. The number of quits in the manufacturing sector ticked up from 258,000 in February to 263,000 in March, the most since January 2001.”

Read the more at the Department of Labor


Council Webinar Friday, May 14th, With JPMorgan Chase Economist James Glassman

Inflation, Labor Shortages, Infrastructure, Supply Chains: Join us Friday afternoon for a discussion of these issues and how they will affect your business with JPMorgan Chase’s Jim Glassman, Managing Director and Head Economist for Commercial Banking.

Jim’s work with the firm—combined with his independent research on the principal forces shaping the economy and financial markets—has earned him regular features in the media and as an economic commentator. He is also a long-standing participant in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters and the National Association of Business Economists’ (NABE) panel of macroeconomic forecasters.

Register Here


NAM: WTO/TRIPS Waiver Will Not Solve Vaccine Crisis

Following the announcement by the United States Trade Ambassador that the Biden administration will support waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“We are all horrified by the images that we are seeing in India and in other places around the world hard-hit by COVID-19. The proposed WTO/TRIPS waiver would not solve this crisis and would exacerbate the core manufacturing and distribution challenges, as well as introduce serious new safety concerns.

“Rather than rushing to suspend critical protections and standards, investing in even greater production capacity would result in expanded vaccine access. Pharmaceutical manufacturers continue to work around the clock to help the world get armed against COVID-19. We should do everything possible to build on that heroic work, not undermine the protections that make this innovation possible in the first place.”


US Vaccine Rollout – Vaccination Rate/Cases Continue to Decline

The US has distributed 330 million doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and administered 262 million. Daily doses administered continues to decrease, down from a high of 3.3 million on April 11 to 2.0 million. Approximately 1.3 million people are achieving fully vaccinated status per day, down from a high of 1.8 million per day on April 12.

A total of 152 million individuals have received at least 1 dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, equivalent to 46% of the entire US population and 58% of all adults. Of those, 116 million are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 35% of the total population and 44% of adults. Among adults aged 65 years and older, progress has largely stalled at 84% with at least 1 dose and 72% fully vaccinated. In terms of full vaccination, 60 million individuals have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 47 million have received the Moderna vaccine, and 9.0 million have received the J&J-Janssen vaccine.

Read More at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine Update

As of Wednesday morning 9,733,468 (plus 35,131 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 7,972,909 are fully vaccinated (Plus 87,053).  In the Hudson Valley 1,031,905 (plus 3,987) have at least one dose and 828,552 (plus 11,895) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update – Beeches and Pools Can Open With Social Distancing

Governor Cuomo yesterday announced that beaches and pools will operate with six-foot social distancing in anticipation of Memorial Day. New York State’s goal is to reopen them to 100 percent capacity by July 4.

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday May 11th.  There were 26 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,367. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,928
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 169

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,959
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 404

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.28%
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.23%

Useful Websites:


Colonial Pipeline Restarted Operations,  ‘It Will Take “Several Days” For Supply Chain to Return to Normal

Colonial Pipeline said Wednesday “it initiated the restart” of operations after having to shut off the conduit following a cyberattack last week.  The pipeline was set to resume operations around 5 p.m. ET, but the company said “it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.” Colonial Pipeline Co. had to shut it down Saturday following a ransomware attack.

The shut-off of the pipeline, the primary fuel conduit serving the East Coast, spurred gasoline shortages in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Gas prices jumped just above $3 a gallon Wednesday, and many gas stations in the Southeast were out of fuel as panicking motorists rushed to fill up in the wake of the cyberattack on a crucial regional pipeline.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


The World’s Greatest Leaders List from Fortune

Fortune’s annual World’s Greatest Leaders list was released yesterday morning, and while a politician nabbed the top spot—New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern—the list also included a lot of CEOs.

Among them: Pfizer’s Albert Bourla, Moderna’s Stephane Bancel and BioNTech’s Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, for the mRNA COVID vaccine miracle; PayPal’s Dan Schulman, for rethinking call center pay; Ping An’s Jessica Tan, for revolutionizing Chinese health care during the pandemic; General Catalyst Chair Kenneth Chenault, for urging corporations to speak up on voting rights for Black Americans; Deep Mind’s Demis Hassabis, for pioneering A.I.; Grab’s Anthony Tan, for reinventing his business to meet the needs of the pandemic; Taiwan Semi’s C.C. Wei, for keeping the world supplied with computer chips; Occidental’s Vicki Hollub, for championing carbon capture and storage; and Nasdaq’s Adena Friedman, for pushing for board diversity.

See the full list at Fortune (subscription) 


European Commission lifts Eurozone 2021 GDP forecast from 3.8% to 4.3%

The European Commission presented Wednesday a more upbeat assessment of how the 27 economies will perform this year, citing an improved vaccination campaign and the expectation that EU-wide fiscal stimulus will kick in the second half of 2021. The Brussels-based institution now foresees a gross domestic product rate of 4.2% for the EU in 2021, and of 4.4% for next year. In February, it said GDP would be 3.7% this year and 3.9% in 2022.

The prospects for the 19 countries that share the euro have also improved. Growth is now estimated at 4.3% this year, instead of 3.8% as forecast in February.  The European Central Bank said in March that GDP would reach 4% in the euro area this year.

Read more at CNBC


GOP-Led States Move to End Enhanced Federal Unemployment Benefits Early

A growing number of Republican governors are moving to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits early in a controversial move they say will push people back to work and help employers fill open positions. President Joe Biden and his administration have rejected the idea that enhanced benefits are keeping unemployed workers sitting at home.

The GOP governors of Mississippi and Alabama on Monday were the latest to announce an early end to pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits, joining officials in Montana, South Carolina and Arkansas, all of whom announced last week that they would terminate the enhanced benefits before the end of June – months before the programs expire in September.

Read more at US News and World Report


Senate Democrats Skeptical of Extending $300 Unemployment Benefit Beyond September

Senate Democrats are signaling they’re unlikely to extend a $300 federal weekly unemployment benefit past September, especially if the economy continues to recover. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is already making it clear he will not support extending the benefits past September 6.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a Tuesday press conference there was “overwhelming support” among Democrats to keep providing the additional money to existing unemployment insurance. But not every member of his caucus is on board, particularly after last week’s weaker-than-expected April jobs report.

Read more at Politico


U.S. Tariffs Drive Drop in Chinese Imports

U.S. tariffs have led to a sharp decline in Chinese imports and significant changes in the types of goods Americans buy from China, new data show, with purchases of telecommunications gear, furniture, apparel and other goods shifting to other countries.

Nearly two-thirds of all imports from China—or roughly $370 billion in annual goods—were covered by tariffs imposed by the U.S. in 2018 and 2019. Tariffs now cover just half of Chinese exports to the U.S., or about $250 billion in goods annually, as U.S. companies buy more from other countries, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of information from Trade Data Monitor.

Read more at the WSJ


 

read more »

Daily Briefing – 303

FDA Permits Use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine in Kids Ages 12 to 15

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s request to allow their Covid-19 vaccine to be given to kids ages 12 to 15 on an emergency use basis, allowing states to get middle school students vaccinated before the fall.

Vaccinating children is seen as crucial to ending the pandemic. The nation is unlikely to achieve herd immunity — when enough people in a given community have antibodies against a specific disease — until children can get vaccinated, health officials and experts say.

Read more at CNBC


JOLTS: Job Openings Rose to 8.1 Million 

The data shows businesses reopening along with the country, yet last Friday’s jobs report for April indicated employers have since had trouble filling those jobs. Job postings rose in most industries, including restaurants, bars and hotels; manufacturing; construction; and retail. They fell in health care and transportation and warehousing.

Openings rose to 8.1 million from 7.5 million, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Tuesday morning. The median estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for 7.5 million openings. The reading marks a third straight increase and places job openings at their highest level ever.

Read more at The WSJ


Cuomo Announces Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative

Governor Cuomo today launched Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, officially kicking off a new decade of economic development in a post-pandemic recovery. The 2021 funding round includes more than $750 million in state economic development resources.

The Consolidated Funding Application opened May 10, enabling businesses, municipalities, not-for-profits and the public to begin applying for assistance from dozens of state programs for job-creation and community development projects. Manufacturing remains a priority for the Hudson valley region. 


Your Tax Dollars at Work: New “Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew” Campaign to Support State’s Economic Recovery

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the new “Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew” multimedia campaign designed to support the state’s reopening and economic recovery by showing that New York is back better than before. The new campaign utilizes TV ads and billboards to coincide with the reopening of industries across the state. The goal of this collaborative effort-created and supported by and for New Yorkers-is to spur new investments while re-energizing residents, businesses and communities in the wake of COVID-19.  


US Vaccine Rollout – Vaccination Rate/Cases Continue to Decline

U.S. COVID-19 cases fell 30% over the past two weeks as the U.S. vaccination campaign continued to take effect, albeit at a slowing pace, according to CNBC. About 46% of Americans have gotten at least their first shot, and about 34% are fully vaccinated.

“Following 2.3 million vaccinations reported administered Sunday, the nationwide average over the past week is 2 million shots per day, according to the CDC. Though the daily rate has shown some signs of steadying in recent days, it is down significantly from the peak level of 3.4 million shots per day on April 13.”  

Read More at CNBC


NYS Vaccine Update

As of Tuesday morning 9,698,337 (plus 36,393 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 7,885,856 are fully vaccinated (Plus 81,348).  In the Hudson Valley 1,027,918 (plus 3,834) have at least one dose and 816,657 (plus 10,643) are fully vaccinated. 


NYS COVID Update – Downward Trends Continue

The Governor  updated COVID data through Wednesday May 5th.  There were 32 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,341. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.  

Hospitalizations

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,026
  • Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 171

ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)

  • Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,820
  • Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 396

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 1.34%
  • Mid-Hudson: 1.34%

Useful Websites:


Can You Require Your Employees to Get the COVID Vaccine?

The short answer is yes, you can: If that’s what you deem to be the best route for your organization. For example, if you manufacture medical supplies or you’re in industrial food prep, you may feel it’s necessary to ensure the safety of your employees and the end user of your product. From a legal standpoint, you can require the vaccine as a condition of employment based on previous regulations established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

Whether you choose to mandate or strongly encourage the vaccine, open communication with your employees is critical.

Read more at IndustryWeek


WHO Classifies India Variant as Being of Global Concern

The World Health Organization said on Monday that the coronavirus variant first identified in India last year was being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily.  The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis. The others are those first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

Indian coronavirus infections and deaths held close to record daily highs on Monday, increasing calls for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lock down the world’s second-most populous country.

Read more at Reuters


U.S. Auto Part Makers Brace for a Bumpy Ride as Chip Shortage to Intensify

Auto parts suppliers including Lear, BorgWarner and Magna International warn that the semiconductor chip shortage and high material costs could affect vehicle production for many automakers, possibly until next year. “We don’t expect the supply/demand imbalance to fully recover to normalized levels until 2022,” said Joseph Massaro, chief financial officer of Aptiv, another auto supplier.

Read more at Yahoo


Apple Invests Another $45 Million in Gorilla Glass Maker Corning

Apple is awarding Corning another $45 million investment from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, in addition to the $450 million it’s already given to the US-based company over the past four years. According to Apple’s announcement, the investment will “expand Corning’s manufacturing capacity in the US and drive research and development into innovative new technologies that support durability and long-lasting product life.”

Corning provides glass for a variety of Apple products, including the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The two companies have a history dating back to the original iPhone. Last year, they collaborated on the iPhone 12 lineup’s Ceramic Shield technology, which Apple claims is “tougher than any smartphone glass” and makes its latest flagships four times more resistant to damage from drops. 

Read more at The Verge


Americans Up and Moved During the Pandemic. Here’s Where They Went

In a very cool infographic the Wall Street Journal shows the migration patterns of American since 2018 based on household change of address forms.

Suburban areas such as Suffolk County, N.Y., on Long Island, saw an inflow of big-city dwellers last year. Households arriving there from large metropolitan areas increased by 70%. Of all the change-of-address forms, 46% indicated they were coming from four New York City counties—those covering Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. The previous year, a third of all newcomers came from those counties.

View the infographic at the WSJ


 

read more »