Governor Cuomo Announces 26th Straight Day with COVID-19 Infection Rate Below 1 Percent
Governor Cuomo yesterday announced the 26th straight day that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has remained below 1 percent. Yesterday, 0.80 percent of tests reported to the state were positive. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.
U.S. Manufacturing Activity Strongest in Nearly Two Years in August
U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated to a nearly two-year high in August amid a surge in new orders, but employment continued to lag, supporting views that the labor market recovery was losing momentum.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Tuesday its index of national factory activity increased to a reading of 56.0 last month from 54.2 in July. That was the highest level since November 2018 and marked three straight months of growth.
But the continued improvement in manufacturing is uneven, as the COVID-19 pandemic shifts spending away from equipment used in the services industries such as restaurants and bars to purchases of goods like home electronics.
Stimulus Deal Getting Closer, But There’s More Work To Be Done
Move past the sound bites, however, and one can see real progress toward a deal. Recall that the starting positions were $3.4 trillion in the Heroes Act passed by House Democrats and $1 trillion in the HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans. Following the call last week, however, Speaker Pelosi reduced her proposal by $200 billion, down to $2.2 trillion. At the same time, Mr. Meadows came up $300 billion, saying the President would sign a $1.3 trillion package.
Aid to state and local governments represents $915 billion of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act. In contrast, the Republicans have offered $150 billion. Thus, this issue alone represents $765 billion of the $900 billion divide. Moody’s Analytics puts the budget shortfall at $500 billion and that’s not what state and local governments need now, it’s their budget shortfall over the next two years. Even if the federal government covered this entire shortfall, it would close the gap by over $400 billion. An agreement to cover just the next year’s state and local government budget shortfall would narrow the gap even further. Such a deal would require both sides to compromise.
CBO: U.S. Debt Is Set to Exceed Size of the Economy for Year, a First Since World War II
U.S. government debt is on track to exceed the size of the economy for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, a milestone not hit since World War II that has been brought into reach by a giant fiscal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to report on Wednesday that federal debt held by the public is projected to reach or exceed 100% of U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of U.S. economic output. That would put the U.S. in the company of a handful of nations with debt loads that exceed their economies, including Japan, Italy and Greece.
United Airlines Halves Planned Layoffs to 16,370
United Airlines said Wednesday it expects to cut 16,370 jobs on Oct. 1, far fewer than the 36,000 it warned of two months ago, as suspense builds over whether Congress will extend relief for the struggling airline industry.
Between the lines: United was able to limit the layoffs by cutting costs, raising debt and encouraging tens of thousands of employees to participate in a variety of voluntary leave, early retirement and reduced hours programs.
Workforce Drug Testing Positivity Reaches Highest Rate in 16 Years
The rate of workforce drug positivity hit a sixteen-year high in 2019, according to an analysis released on August 25 by Quest Diagnostics. Positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased in urine drug tests, climbing to the highest level since 2003 (4.5%) and more than 28% higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012.
In addition to overall increases in workforce drug positives, specific regions of the United States, particularly the Midwest, experienced dramatic increases in positivity for cocaine and methamphetamine as well as marijuana.
“Pooled” Saliva Test for COVID-19 Approved by NY Dept. of Health
The New York State Department of Health gave the green light for SUNY Upstate to begin using the tests Tuesday. The saliva tests will be used with another form of coronavirus screening called pooled surveillance testing.
Pooled surveillance testing allows a college campus to run multiple samples in a single test, which are pooled in batches as small as 10 samples and as large as 25 samples.
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