Workplace Issues

Daily Briefing – 375

Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Growth “at a Swift Pace” 

Business activity grew at a swift pace in New York State, according to firms responding to the September 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index climbed sixteen points to 34.3. New orders, shipments, and unfilled orders all increased substantially. Looking ahead, firms remained very optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months, and capital spending and technology spending plans increased markedly.

  • The index for number of employees rose eight points to 20.5,
  • The average workweek index increased fifteen points to 24.3, pointing to strong gains in employment and hours worked.
  • The prices paid index held steady at 75.7,
  • The prices received index edged up two points to 47.8, marking its third consecutive record high.
  • The new orders index rose nineteen points to 33.7,
  • The shipments index shot up twenty-three points to 26.9, indicating strong growth in both orders and shipments.
  • The unfilled orders index rose to 20.9.
  • The delivery times index moved up to a record high of 36.5, indicating significantly longer delivery times. 

Read more at the NY Fed


FDA Scientists Strike Skeptical Tone on Need for Booster at This Time, Likely Fueling Debate

Food and Drug Administration scientists have expressed skepticism about the need for additional doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for all people who have received it. The assessment by the agency’s staff, included in documents released Wednesday, sets up a high-stakes debate over who will need an additional booster dose — and when they will need it — at the meeting of experts being convened by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

In the documents, the FDA’s own scientists seemed to strike a cautious position about the need for widespread booster shots. Overall, they said, “data indicate that currently US-licensed or authorized COVID-19 vaccines still afford protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death in the United States.” any decision by the FDA that limits the approval for booster shots, or even expresses hesitancy about how they should be used, will be seen as a rebuke to the Biden administration, which in August took the unusual step of unveiling a plan to offer boosters to the U.S. population, ahead of decisions from the FDA and the CDC.

Read more at Statnews


Americans’ Incomes Fell in 2020

An annual assessment of the nation’s financial well-being, released Tuesday by the Census Bureau, offered insight into how households fared during the pandemic’s first year. Americans last year saw their first significant decline in household income in nearly a decade with economic pain from the Covid-19 pandemic prompting government aid that helped keep millions from falling into poverty. 

Median household income was about $67,500 in 2020, down 2.9% from the prior year, when it hit an inflation-adjusted historical high. It came as the U.S. last year saw millions lose their jobs and national unemployment soar from a 50-year low to a high of 14.8%. The last time median household income fell significantly was 2011, in the aftermath of the 2007-09 recession.

Read more at the WSJ


CEO Salaries Declined in 2020

CEO salaries declined in 2020, as companies enacted cuts to preserve liquidity and show solidarity with workers. But those cuts were offset by surging stock compensation, fueled by a rising stock market. The end result: median CEO pay for S&P 500 CEOs rose slightly—about 2.5%—while median pay for Russell 3000 CEOs was down barely, 0.1%.

That’s the finding of an annual study by The Conference Board, along with ESGAUGE and Semler Brossy.  Median salaries among S&P 500 CEOs fell 4.2%, and median salaries among Russell 3000 CEOs fell 6.4%.  • Stock options soared as a share of CEO pay, accounting for 19.1% of total pay in 2020, up from 11.1% in 2019.

Read the report a The Conference Board


US COVID-19 Update – U.S. Moves to Prevent Shortage of Therapy Drugs

The Biden administration has sought to avert shortages of monoclonal antibodies this week as an analysis published Tuesday found that treating the nation’s hospitalized, unvaccinated population topped an estimated $5.7 billion.
 
As of Monday, the federal government has taken over distribution of monoclonal antibody treatment and has purchased 1.4 million additional doses — a move likely to reduce the medication in parts of the country with high infection rates. The new move will temporarily allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement rules for distribution of the critical covid-19 therapy instead of permitting states, medical facilities and doctors to order them directly.

Read more at the Washington Post


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday September 15th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 69.3 of all New Yorkers – 13,434,333 (plus 30,477 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,418,246 (plus 2,544) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 61.9% of all New Yorkers – 12,039,998 are fully vaccinated (Plus 24,321)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,256,815 (plus 2,476) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday September 14th.  There were 31 COVID related deaths for a total of 56,139.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,424.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.11%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.57%

Useful Websites:


Federal Court Issues TRO Enjoining Omission of a Religious Exemption from the Emergency Public Health Vaccination Regulations

The federal District Court for the Northern District of New York issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Sept. 14, 2021, enjoining New York State officials from enforcing emergency regulations imposing a vaccination mandate for certain healthcare workers to the extent that the regulations do not allow for a religious exemption to the mandate.  The emergency regulations, which were issued on August 26 by the Public Health and Health Planning Council under the New York State Public Health Law, apply to hospitals, nursing home and home health agencies, among other entities. The emergency regulations were notable for not including provisions for a religious exemption or any test out provisions.

The court’s TRO places the lack of a religious exemption provision on hold, pending the outcome of the proceeding. The TRO goes into effect immediately, although the court noted that the TRO will not have practical effect until September 27, which was the earliest date for a vaccination requirement under the regulations. 

Read more at Bond Schoeneck & King


Pfizer CEO Says COVID Vaccine Data for Kids Under Age 5 May Come in Late October

Pfizer expects to release clinical trial data on how well its Covid-19 vaccine works in 6-month to 5-year-old children as early as the end of October, CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday. Vaccine data for kids between ages 5 and 11 will come much sooner, he said, potentially ready to be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of this month.

 “Then, it is up to the FDA to take their time, and then make a decision,” Bourla said during an interview at Research!America’s 2021 National Health Research Forum.  The CEO’s comments come as many parents say they are anxious to get their children vaccinated, especially as schools reopen and the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread. 

Read more at CNBC


Europe’s Manufacturing Recovery Continues

Euro-zone manufacturing may at last be on the up. Data released by Eurostat yesterday showed that industrial production grew by 1.5% in July. That was significantly higher than analysts’ expectations, and means industrial production has now returned to its pre-pandemic level.

Surveys of purchasing managers by IHS Markit have been indicating strong growth in manufacturing output throughout the summer. But they have also highlighted record backlogs of new orders and slow delivery times, suggesting supply has struggled to keep pace with growing demand. Last week Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank, said the bloc was “on track for strong growth in the third quarter”. 

Read more at Reuters


China’s Factories, Retailers Stumble on COVID-19 Disruptions

The growth of retail sales in China slowed to 2.5% in August, year-on-year, falling far short of an expected 7%. Industrial growth decelerated too, from 6.4% in July to 5.3%. China’s zero-tolerance approach to controlling COVID-19 poses acute difficulties to retailers; this week relatively small outbreaks in the commercial powerhouse of Fujian province provoked lockdowns affecting millions.

The world’s second-largest economy has made a remarkably strong revival from last year’s coronavirus-led slump, but momentum has slowed over the past few months due to supply chain bottlenecks, semiconductor shortages, curbs on high-polluting industries and a crackdown on property investment.

Read more at Reuters


UK Sees Record Jump in Annual Inflation

Inflation in the United Kingdom rose to 3.2 percent in the past 12 months through August, a Wednesday report from the Office for National Statistics said. The report added that “this is likely to be a temporary change” amid the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

This figure is up from 2 percent in July, marking the largest increase seen since the Consumer Prices Index began measuring inflation in 1997, the report said. Because the increase is more than 1 percentage point, Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, will have to officially explain it in a letter to Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, in accordance with the Bank of England’s policies.

Read more at The Hill


Machine Tool Demand Slows to Start Q3

U.S. manufacturers and machine shops ordered $472.6 million worth of new capital equipment during July, -5.6% less than the June total but only the second decrease in monthly orders this year. The July result also represents a 41.5% increase over the July 2020 total, as manufacturers continue to invest in reaction to building industrial demand.

For the current year to-date, new orders for machine tools total $2.99 billion, which is 48.1% higher than the order volume for January-July 2020.

Read more at American Machinist


Curtains Up: Broadway Reopens

New York quicksteps, foxtrots and pirouettes towards theatre heaven today as Broadway opens at full capacity for the first time since March 2020. Several blockbuster musicals, including “Hamilton”, “Wicked”, “The Lion King” and “Chicago”, will restart performances immediately. Previews for “Six”, “Chicken & Biscuits” and “Is This A Room” begin later this month. Before they can get their toes tapping, visitors (as well as performers and backstage staff) will have to provide proof of full vaccination. Patrons unable to do so will be asked to produce evidence of a negative covid-19 test.

Broadway had enjoyed its best season ever before the pandemic struck. In 2018-19 theatres welcomed 14.8m visitors; Broadway contributed an estimated $14.7bn to New York’s economy and provided almost 97,000 jobs. But, perhaps fearing the fast-spreading Delta variant, audiences are not rushing back to their seats. Tickets for “Hamilton”—in the past sold out months in advance—are still widely available.

Read all about it at the New York Times


High Steel Prices Have Manufacturers Scrounging for Supplies

Manufacturers are facing the highest steel and aluminum prices in years, another hurdle for U.S. companies already struggling to make enough cars, cans and other products. A Midwest steel index calculated by CRU Group estimated prices at $1,940 a ton at the start of September, up from around $560 in September for both 2019 and 2020. A U.S. government index tracking the price of steel and iron nearly doubled in August from the year before, the biggest relative increase since records began in the 1920s.

Rapidly increasing metal costs are pushing manufacturers to take what steel they can get and hire more people to seek out available supplies, company executives said. The rising costs are flowing through to some producers of consumer goods: Campbell Soup Co. is paying more to get the cans it fills with tomato soup; Peloton Interactive Inc.  is seeing prices rise for parts that go into its stationary bikes; and Steelcase Inc.  is paying more to make metal desks and filing cabinets. Car makers like Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are also dealing with rising metal prices.

Read more at the WSJ


Boeing Projects Market Growing to $9T

Boeing Co. issued an annual forecast of aircraft markets for the next ten years, projecting a growing market it values at $9 trillion based on a rebounding commercial aircraft sector, growing demand for cargo aircraft, and continued demand for aircraft services across the commercial, business, general aviation, and government aircraft sectors.

The $9-trillion estimation improves on the 10-year/$8.5-trillion outlook Boeing offered in its 2020 Boeing Market Outlook, and on the 10-year/$8.7-trillion assessment in 2019 – prior to the pandemic-related contraction of commercial aviation activity.  Boeing foresees a 10-year (2021-2030) global demand for 19,000 commercial airplanes, valued at $3.2 trillion; and a 20-year (2021-2040) global demand for over 43,500 new airplanes, valued at $7.2 trillion. The 20-year figure shows an increase of about 500 aircraft over the 2020 Commercial Market Outlook.

Read more at American Machinist


 

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Daily Briefing – 374

Consumer Prices Rise at a Slower Pace in August; Has Inflation Peaked?

Underlying U.S. consumer prices increased at their slowest pace in six months in August as used motor vehicle prices tumbled, suggesting that inflation had probably peaked, though it could remain high for a while amid persistent supply constraints.

  • Consumer prices rise 0.3% in August.
  • CPI increases 5.3% on year-on-year basis.
  • Core CPI gains 0.1%; up 4.0% year-on-year

The so-called core CPI was held back by a 1.5% decline in prices for used cars and trucks, which ended five straight monthly increases. Robust increases in prices of used cars and trucks, as well as services in industries worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, were the key drivers behind a heating up of inflation at the start of the year.

Read more at Reuters


New York Law Phases Out Most Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035

Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Wednesday that effectively bans the sale of new internal combustion engine cars, off-road vehicles, light-duty trucks and equipment by 2035. According to the DEC website the state defines zero-emission vehicles as: battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, or hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles.

The legislation, introduced by New York state senator Pete Harckham, also requires new heavy- and medium-duty trucks for sale in New York to be in the “zero-emissions” category by 2045.

Read more at CNBC


HERO Act FAQs Released By NYS DOL

The law covers all non-governmental industries across New York and work sites, with the exception of any employee or employer within the coverage of a temporary or permanent OSHA standard on COVID-19, or airborne infectious diseases, generally. As of this time, only health care is covered by such an OSHA standard including
employer-provided housing and transportation. It also protects special categories of workers at “non-traditional” workplaces, including private households and individuals
working for digital applications or platforms.

The NY HERO Act does not cover telework or any work site that the employer does not have the ability to control. The NYS Department of Labor published the HERO Act FAQs.  Employers are encouraged to read through this information to assist with their HERO Act airborne infectious disease plan.  As reported previously, the Commissioner of Health has designated COVID as a public health threat, triggering the implementation of your plan. 

Read the FAQs


Subway and Commuter Railroads Break Pandemic Ridership Records 

Governor Hochul announced yesterday that the New York City Subway, Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road broke pandemic-era ridership records within the last four days. Records were set on Monday, Sept. 13, with 2.77 Million Subway Riders and 122,504 on Metro-North.  The LIRR Set Record Friday Sept. 10, Carrying 150,895 Customers.  The LIRR and Metro-North Carried More Than 100,000 Customers Every Weekday after Labor Day.

“These record ridership numbers show that New Yorkers are returning to school, the workplace and bringing our economy back with them,” Governor Hochul said. “New York’s comeback is underway, and we will continue working to increase ridership across our bus, subway and rail systems, restore riders’ confidence in the MTA, and keep our recovery moving forward.”  The subway, including the Staten Island Railway, carried 2,767,385 customers on Monday, Sept. 13, the highest ridership since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. 

Read the press release


US COVID-19 Update – Deaths Remain Above 1,000 Per Day

The US CDC reports 41.0 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 658,410 deaths. Daily incidence appears to have passed a peak. The average daily mortality is still more than 1,000 deaths per day, and we expect the US to surpass 660,000 cumulative deaths in the next 1-2 days. This threshold corresponds to 1 death for every 500 people in the US.

The US has administered 381 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations peaked at nearly 834,000 doses per day on August 29 and then decreased sharply over the Labor Day holiday weekend.  There are 209.7 million individuals who have received at least 1 dose.  Among adults, 75.7% have received at least 1 dose and approximately 65.0% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday September 14th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 69.2 of all New Yorkers – 13,403,886 (plus 24,357 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,415,702 (plus 2,426) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 61.8% of all New Yorkers – 12,015,677 are fully vaccinated (Plus 17,523)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,254,339 (plus 2,120) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday September 13th.  There were 28 COVID related deaths for a total of 56,097.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,476.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.16%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.56%

Useful Websites:


Covid-19 Study in England Shows Few Deaths Among Vaccinated People

An analysis of more than 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in England this year offers reassuring evidence on the effectiveness of vaccines, showing that mortality rates among people fully inoculated against coronavirus were a fraction of those without a shot. The study, by the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, recorded 640 deaths among fully vaccinated individuals between or 1.2% of 51,281 Covid-19 deaths overall. Of those 640, some were of people infected before their second dose or before the protection from a second dose had kicked in, the ONS said. The agency identified 256 as breakthrough deaths, in which the person died after testing positive for the virus at least 14 days after their second dose, or 0.5% of all Covid-19 deaths.

The analysis is notable because it includes estimates of the mortality rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups that account for differences in age. It also provides considerable detail about the overall health of breakthrough-case victims who succumbed to Covid-19 after receiving two doses of vaccine.

Read more at the WSJ


Mercer Survey Shows Employees Want More Than the “Honor System”

Of 2,000 U.S. workers surveyed in August by Mercer, 65% said they want their employer to implement a vaccine mandate. Half the employees were hourly workers, and half were salaried, all working for companies with more than 500 people. A separate survey of 372 U.S. employers conducted in late July and early August by Mercer found that while more companies said they were considering a vaccine mandate, 71% weren’t currently requiring the shots.

Some employers relying on honor systems may be reluctant to mandate vaccines or masks because they are trying to respect a range of beliefs and feelings among employees. The honor system may be easier at small companies. “There are 10 of us. Five are family members, and the rest of us have worked there for many years, and we were all in agreement on getting vaccinated,”

Read more at the WSJ


U.S. Poverty Rate Rose From 60-Year Low, Incomes Fell Amid Virus

U.S. household income fell in 2020 while the national poverty rate rose from a 60-year low as the Covid-19 pandemic upended the U.S. economy and threw millions out of work. Median, inflation-adjusted household income decreased 2.9% last year to $67,521 according to annual data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty rate rose one percentage point to 11.4% after having dropped for five straight years and reaching the lowest since 1959 in 2019. 

The data help flesh out the picture of American families’ economic health in 2020 amid a pandemic that caused the first annual economic contraction since 2009, put tens of millions out of work and exacerbated existing inequalities. Lower-wage service-industry workers and people of color bore the brunt of job losses. The government’s stimulus checks and extra $600 a week in jobless benefits helped soften the blow, supporting incomes and spending amid widespread unemployment. 

Read more at Bloomberg


Will Prolonged Disruptions Shift the Pattern of Trade?

The average cost of shipping a standard large container (a 40-foot-equivalent unit, or FEU) has surpassed $10,000, some four times higher than a year ago (see chart). The spot price for sending such a box from Shanghai to New York, which in 2019 would have been around $2,500, is now close to $15,000. Securing a late booking on the busiest route, from China to the west coast of America, could cost $20,000.

For years container shipping kept supply chains running and globalisation humming. With shops’ shelves fully stocked and products from the other side of the world turning up promptly on customers’ doorsteps, the industry drew barely any outside attention. Shipping was “so cheap that it was almost immaterial”, says David Kerstens of Jefferies, a bank. But now, as disruption heaps upon disruption, the metal boxes are losing their reputation for low prices and reliability. Few experts think things will get better before early next year. The prolonged dislocation could even hasten a reordering of global trade.

Read more at The Economist


Amazon Increases Hourly Starting Pay to $18

Amazon is boosting its hourly starting pay to $18 and plans to hire 125,000 new workers across the U.S., the company announced Tuesday.  The Seattle-based tech giant said in “select locations” sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000 are available.  

The roles are in fulfillment and transportation, and hiring is already underway, according to the announcement. News of the wage increase follows the company’s previous announcement of 40,000 new corporate and technology jobs. 

Read more at The Hill


CDC Studies Expanding the Use of  Wastewater Surveillance Data to Support the COVID-19 Response

In nearly 80% of U.S. households, fecal waste is transported from homes to wastewater treatment plants within hours (7). Wastewater represents a pooled community stool sample that can provide information on infection trends in the community.  Wastewater surveillance data provide information about symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. The accuracy of this surveillance approach is not influenced by health care access or clinical testing capacity. Community-level wastewater surveillance data can be leveraged for rapid assessment of emerging threats and preparedness for future pandemics. 

To build sustainable national wastewater surveillance capacity, CDC focused NWSS development in four areas: 1) offering technical assistance to implementing jurisdictions; 2) creating a data portal for centralized data submission and standardized data analysis and visualization; 3) coordinating communities of practice* to share best practices among health departments, public health laboratories, and utilities; and 4) building epidemiology and laboratory capacity for wastewater surveillance at health departments. 

Read more a CDC


Space Tourism Takes Flight with SpaceX

SpaceX will tonight launch the first private space flight that takes only tourists—and no professional astronauts—up into the heavens. The two men and two women (led by 38-year-old payments billionaire Jared Isaacman) will fly 100 miles higher than the International Space Station.  That is way, way further out than fellow amateurs Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.

Read more at Fortune


A Four-Day Workweek Is No Holiday

For many parents, cramming five days of work into four will mean less time with their children. Three-day weekends can be great for bonding, but children need a consistent, daily presence, not occasional chunks of time. Shorter days, not fewer days, are preferable.

The needs of children are best met when they spend time with their primary caregivers every day. Four-day workweeks can provide parents with the illusion of presence because they are available in large blocks of time during the weekend. But if this comes at the cost of barely being around during the week—missing bed time or homework after school—the long weekend won’t yield much benefit.

Read more at the WSJ


Shortages Constrict U.S. Economy 

A shortage of basic goods across the manufacturing sector is snarling supply chains and causing headaches for companies nationwide. Supply chains have become clogged as many manufacturers try to build up their stock, even as traffic jams in ports in China and near Los Angeles slow transit and shipping prices have risen. Some suppliers in Asia have refused to build out additional capacity to address a rising demand for products and materials, out of concern that the increase may only be temporary.

The shortages are making it difficult for buyers to source materials that used to be easy to get. Manufacturers are stuck with mostly finished products as they wait for slow-to-arrive components, and the uncertainty and scarcity have caused prices to rise. Rising prices have led to fears that sustained inflation could last longer than previously anticipated.  

Read more at Reuters

 

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Daily Briefing – 373

Democrats Release Details of Proposed Tax Increase

House Democrats spelled out their proposed tax increases on Monday, pushing higher rates on corporations, investors and high-income business owners as they try to piece together enough votes for legislation to expand the social safety net and combat climate change. Democrats plan a committee vote this week on the proposals, which would generate more than $2 trillion over a decade.

The plan would increase the corporate tax rate to 26.5% from 21%, impose a 3-percentage-point surtax on people making over $5 million and raise capital-gains taxes—but without the changes to taxation at death sought by the Biden administration. The tax increase details were the last major missing piece in the Democratic agenda, and their release will accelerate lawmakers’ negotiations over which new spending to give priority to and which tax increases they find acceptable.

Read more at Reuters


Short-Lasting Inflation Depends on Long-Lasting Goods

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has argued for a while that the higher inflation is largely driven by temporary factors unique to the pandemic. In a speech hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in late August, Mr. Powell offered more details on his thinking. He singled out the sudden rise in durable goods prices—in contrast to the more modest rise in services prices—as evidence that inflation is bound to fall back to the Fed’s 2% goal.

Mr. Powell cited several forces driving down prices for durable goods. One is globalization: Competition from other countries, in particular emerging markets with lots of low-wage workers like China and India, has stoked competition for American producers and led some to outsource production. As a result, costs for parts and products have fallen.

Read more at the WSJ


Controversy Erupts Over Biden’s Vaccination Mandate

Opponents of President Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate command pledge to have it overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court—and they may actually have a good chance of accomplishing that. But in the immediate term, the overwhelming difficulties surrounding organizing and imposing such a massive program on so many employers could prove to be quite daunting for the administration.

OSHA has not successfully issued an ETS since 1978. Its last attempt before COVID would have regulated asbestos exposure and was invalidated by a U.S. Court of Appeals in 1984. The court held that OSHA had not sufficiently supported its conclusion of a “grave danger,” i.e., that 80 people would die in the next six months without the ETS, and that OSHA could not show that an asbestos ETS was “necessary” given its existing respiratory standard, attorney Gabrielle Sigel of the Jenner & Block law firm, pointed out last March.

Read more at EHS Today


Tensions Mount Between CDC and Biden Health Team Over Boosters

Top Biden Covid-19 officials are increasingly clashing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the administration pushes to begin distributing booster shots widely by Sept. 20. White House Covid-19 task force and the Food and Drug Administration have repeatedly accused CDC of withholding critical data needed to develop the booster shot plan — delaying work on the next step of President Joe Biden’s vaccination campaign and making it more difficult to set clear expectations for the public.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had signed a high-profile statement on Aug. 18 endorsing boosters.  But less than two weeks later, when it came time for CDC to make the case for boosters to an influential advisory panel, senior agency officials argued that priority should be given to nursing-home residents and frontline health workers before expanding access to other groups based on their vulnerability. The new approach blindsided health officials across the federal government, further straining the tenuous relationship between the White House and the CDC.

Read more at Politico


US COVID-19 Update – Deaths in Delta Surge Trend Younger in U.S.

Federal data show Covid-19 deaths among people under 55 have roughly matched highs near 1,800 a week set during last winter’s surge. These data show weekly tallies for overall Covid-19 deaths, meanwhile, remain well under half of the pandemic peak near 26,000 reached in January.

Deaths have been concentrated among the unvaccinated, federal data show. The CDC released studies on Friday showing that unvaccinated Americans were 4.6 times as likely to be infected, 10 times as likely to be hospitalized and 11 times as likely to die.

Read more at WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Monday September 13th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 69.1 of all New Yorkers – 13,379,529 (plus 22,196 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,413,276 (plus 1,609) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 61.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,998,154 are fully vaccinated (Plus 17,509)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,252,219 (plus 1,461) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday September 12th.  There were 29 COVID related deaths for a total of 56,029.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,391.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.19%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.64%

Useful Websites:


Covid-19 Could Become Like the Flu if More People Get Vaccinated

Covid-19 may become a routine illness like a common cold or the flu one day, virologists and epidemiologists say. But it will take a lot to get there, and the ferocious spread of the Delta variant that has filled hospitals again shows how challenging that path could be. Among the most contagious of known disease-causing pathogens, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is now zeroing in on people who haven’t been vaccinated, pushing hospitalizations and deaths in some places in the U.S. to new highs.

More than 20 months after the pandemic began, people around the world are having to change the way they think about a disease that many public-health authorities once believed they could conquer. A terrifying emergency has become a long, grinding haul. 

Read more at the WSJ


2022 Salary Increases Look to Trail Inflation

According to the findings of The Conference Board’s long-running Salary Increase Budget Survey, which includes more than 180 organizations. Pay raises in the U.S. are returning to pre-pandemic levels but rising prices mean higher salaries aren’t likely to keep pace with inflation, new research shows. The median total U.S. salary increase budgets for 2021 are 3 percent, on par with the previous 10 years, and projections for 2022 are also 3 percent, The Conference Board reported in June.

The 3 percent median increase for 2022 is expected to hold steady across employment categories (i.e., nonexempt hourly, nonexempt salaried, exempt and executive), according to Judit Torok, a senior research analyst at The Conference Board, a large-business membership and research association.

Read more at SHRM


Delta Air Lines’ $200 Per Month Experiment for Changing Unvaccinated Employees’ Minds Seems to be Working

In the two weeks since Delta Air Lines announced a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated employees, 20% of Delta’s unvaccinated employees have already gotten the jab, Dr. Henry Ting, Delta’s chief health officer, said in an Infectious Disease Society of America briefing Thursday. “I think [that’s] a huge number in terms of shifting that group that’s most reluctant,” he said.

Of the airline’s 80,000 employees, 20,000 still remain unvaccinated, added Ting, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, and a professor emeritus at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. The surcharge was first announced on Aug. 25, and will go into effect on Nov. 1.

Read more at CNBC


Hospital Announces it Will Stop Delivering Babies After Unvaccinated Staffers Resign

The Lewis County General Hospital in upstate New York will be “unable to safely staff” its maternity department after Sept. 24.  During a Friday news conference, Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer said 30 employees have resigned and 30 have been vaccinated since the mandate was announced in August. Of the 30 who stepped down from Lewis County General Hospital, 21 work in clinical areas. 

He said 165 employees, 27 percent of the hospital system’s workforce, are not vaccinated and it is “not clear what they will do.” The hospital has approved three medical exemptions, and an additional 12 have indicated they will seek exemptions but have yet to request them. Cayer said six employees in the maternity unit at Lewis County General Hospital have resigned rather than get the shot and another seven are undecided, resulting in a critical staff shortage that will pause maternity services. 

Read more at The Hill


Tensions Flare Between the ‘Vaxxed and Unvaxxed’

A survey by Seyfarth at Work reveals 37% of companies report anger from vaccinated employees at the risk posed by unvaccinated workers, while 21% say those who are unvaccinated are expressing discontent about perceived unfair treatment at work. Disputes are most commonly happening internally, either verbally or via workplace communications platforms, with workers also protesting against management, posting online or refusing to work near each other, says Philippe Weiss, Seyfarth’s president.

Read more at CNBC


Automation Is Not to Blame for Growing Income Inequality

For at least four decades, wages have grown more slowly for less-educated workers than workers with more education, although the gap is often exaggerated. But to be sure, income growth has not been as broad-based as it was in the post-war period. The key question is why?

Many neoclassical economists have laid the blame on technological change, arguing first that it was biased in favor of workers with more skills. If more workers would just go to college, all would be well. The newest flavor of the “blame technology” argument is that automation has caused inequality. This is a much more dangerous argument. In contrast to the SBTC argument that logically led policies to get more people to go to college, the automation argument leads to destructive policies to limit automation and productivity growth, such as robot taxes.  

Read more at IndustryWeek

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 372

Producer Inflation Accelerated in August to a record 8.3% from a Year Ago

The producer price index rose 0.7% for the month, above the 0.6% Dow Jones estimate, though below the 1% increase in July.  On a year-over-year basis, the gauge rose 8.3%, which is the biggest annual increase since records have been kept going back to November 2010. That came following a 7.8% move higher in July, which also set a record.

Excluding food, energy and trade services, final demand prices increased 0.3% for the month, below the 0.5% Dow Jones estimate. Still, that left core PPI up 6.3% from a year ago, also the largest record increase for data going back to August 2014.

Read more at CNBC


NAM Survey: Manufacturing Optimism Cools from Record Highs – Supply Chain, Labor Force Biggest Concerns

On NAM’s Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the third quarter of 2021, 52% of surveyed companies said their business outlook is “somewhat positive,” while an additional 36% said they are “very positive.” In all, 88% of respondents said conditions are at least somewhat positive, down only slightly from June’s 90.1%.  Based on the results, NAM set its manufacturing outlook index to 58.4%. .

On a list of business challenges, 86.4% of surveyed companies said they were having trouble with increased raw material costs, and more than 90% of respondents said they expected those prices to continue climbing. Eighty percent of companies said they were having trouble attracting and retaining a quality workforce, even as 68.2% said they expected to increase full-time employment. Workforce shortages were seen by 81.5% of respondents as the biggest risk to the current economic outlook. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


The Economist Asks – Will Biden’s Vaccine Mandates Work?

Mr. Biden ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to issue a rule requiring firms with 100 employees or more to mandate vaccinations for their workforces, with weekly testing for those who opt out. OSHA may take time to promulgate its directive, but opponents are already staking out their ground: several Republican governors have vowed to take legal action.

The Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on vaccine requirements. But plaintiffs have sued successfully to scuttle other public-health measures from the Biden administration. In August the Supreme Court invalidated a moratorium on evictions issued by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And in July a federal appeals court rejected restrictions imposed by the CDC on cruise ships. Both rulings demonstrated the willingness of the judiciary to narrow the government’s public-health authority.

Read more at The Economist


New York HERO Act “FAQs” From BSK

New York employers are presently “activating” their HERO Act plans, after the New York State Department of Health (DOH) officially designated COVID-19 as a “highly contagious communicable disease that poses risk to the public health.”

We know that our clients and Bond friends have many urgent questions about “activating” their HERO Act plans, so we have developed these “FAQs” for your reference. Last week, New York issued additional guidance on this subject. Where appropriate, we have referenced this guidance below. 

Read more at Bond Schoeneck and King


US COVID-19 Update –

The US CDC reports 40.5 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 652,480 deaths. Daily incidence appears to have passed a peak, however, we will have a clearer picture of the longer-term trends next week, once reporting catches up from the holiday. A similar trend is evident for daily mortality as well. At more than 1,000 deaths per day, we expect the US to surpass 660,000 cumulative deaths within the next week or 1 death for every 500 people in the US. 

The US has administered 378 million cumulative vaccines, and daily vaccinations peaked at nearly 830,000 doses per day on August 29.  In light of the new US vaccination mandates announced on September 9, we will closely monitor trends in daily vaccinations for any effects of the mandates. There are 208.3 million individuals who have received at least 1 vaccine dose, equivalent to 62.7% of the entire US population.  A total of 177.4 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 53.4% of the total population. 

Read more at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday September 12th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 68.9 of all New Yorkers – 13,357,333 (plus 30,383 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,411,667 (plus 2,176) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 61.5% of all New Yorkers – 11,980,645 are fully vaccinated (Plus 24,403)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,250,758 (plus 2,038) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday September 11th.  There were 29 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,891.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,367.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.22%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.67%

Useful Websites:


US Requires Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Private Employers

Private businesses in the U.S. that employ more than 100 employees will soon have to ensure their workers are fully-vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19. The mandate will come in the form of an emergency temporary standard, or ETS, by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

The White House didn’t say when the rule will go into effect. Keith Wilkes, a labor and employment partner at national law firm Hall Estill, predicts it won’t take long, “Although the timing of when the ETS requirement will go into effect is not clear, it will likely not be a long wait. The federal government did its legal homework before implementing the same mandate, via executive order, for federal employees in July,” Wilkes wrote in an email.

Read more at EHS Today


Manchin Suggests He May Support a $1T-$1.5T Spending Agenda

Sen. Joe Manchin on Sunday gave an indication of the dollar amount he might support spending on Democrats’ reconciliation bill, as he continued to stand firm against their proposed $3.5 trillion plan.

After being pressed by CNN’s Dana Bash multiple times for the number he’d support in a spending agenda, Manchin (D-W.Va.) responded: “It’s going to be $1, $1.5 [trillion]. We don’t know where it’s going to be. It’s not going to be at $3.5 [trillion], I can assure you.”  Manchin then added a caveat that his number would be $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion only if the reconciliation bill maintains a “globally competitive” tax code, which he said the current $3.5 trillion plan does not.

Read more at Politico


Amazon Will Pay for Bachelor’s Degrees as New Perk in Fight for U.S. Workers

Amazon.com Inc. on Thursday said it is expanding its educational benefits by offering more than 750,000 U.S. hourly employees the chance to enroll in a fully paid bachelor’s degree program after 90 days of employment. The e-commerce giant said employees will be eligible to get degrees through educational institutions nationwide.

Amazon is trying to attract job seekers in a tight labor market and reduce turnover among some hourly workers. The company has hired 400,000 employees during the pandemic, but it is looking to bring on tens of thousands of additional hourly staffers to work in its fulfillment centers and delivery network over the coming months. Employees working as little as 20 hours a week will be eligible for the college benefit, though Amazon will pay 50% of the college costs for part-time staffers. “Career progression is the new minimum wage,” said Ardine Williams, a vice president of workforce development at Amazon, who notes employer-funded training can help people prepare for a career that interests them. “Most adult learners don’t have the luxury of quitting their jobs and going to school full-time.”

Read more at the WSJ


WHO: Wealthy Nations Prolonging Pandemic by Hoarding Treatments, Vaccines

The World Health Organization (WHO) blasted wealthy nations last week, saying they are prolonging the pandemic by hoarding treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus.

The WHO has for months been calling on wealthy nations to give poorer countries more vaccine doses and to pause booster shots until poorer countries are able to vaccinate more individuals.  Countries in Africa and other parts of the world have struggled to get even 5 percent of their populations vaccinated while wealthier countries have begun administering booster shots for those who have already been fully

Read more at The Hill


COVAX Vaccine 2021 Delivery Target Cut to 1.425 Billion Doses

COVAX, a sharing scheme to get vaccines to mostly poor countries, said it would deliver about a quarter fewer covid-19 jabs than anticipated this year. India’s export restrictions, manufacturing snags and regulatory delays for unapproved shots are to blame. COVAX is now set to release about 1.4bn doses for delivery in 2021—short of its target of 2bn

Read more at Reuters


Unemployment Taxes on Employers Poised to Increase to Repay $9B Owed to Federal Government

The historic surge in unemployment claims at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly depleted the New York State Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund, resulting in the state borrowing from the federal government to pay claims. State UI tax rates have already risen to the highest level permissible under law in 2021. Unless the state or federal government takes significant action, federal UI tax rates on employers will also increase in 2022 and beyond, according to a report issued by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Read the report at the Comptrollers website


Commerce Secretary Raimondo to Challenge Business Lobby on Biden Tax Increases

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will challenge business-community complaints about tax increases included in President Joe Biden’s proposed social-spending package, urging in a speech Thursday that companies should instead support his economic agenda.

“Secretary Raimondo correctly notes that ‘too many Americans feel like they’ve been left behind,’ but returning to archaic tax policies of the past would set Americans back even further,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Manufacturers kept their promises to raise wages and invest in their communities after the 2017 tax reform law. Why would anyone want to undo that progress?  The proposed tax increases would result in 1 million job losses in just the first two years. 

Read more at NAM


US Companies Warn Ida Latest Supply Chain Hit

Outages from Hurricane Ida are exacerbating shortages of raw materials, prompting fresh warnings Wednesday from large U.S. companies saying supply chain problems will hinder sales.

Paint company Sherwin-Williams cited Hurricane Ida when cutting its third-quarter sales forecast after previously projecting a recovery from the supply woes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “We continue to see strong demand,” Chief Executive John Morikis said in the statement. “However, persistent and industry-wide raw material availability issues have not improved as anticipated, impacting our ability to fully meet the strong demand.” Morikis added company would impose a “four percent surcharge”  to offset higher raw materials, transportation and labor costs.

Read more at IndustryWeek


U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Near 18-Month Low

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 35,000 to a seasonally adjusted 310,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, the Labor Department said on Thursday as employers hold onto workers despite the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Continuing claims, which run a week behind the headline number, dropped as well, falling to 2.78 million, a decrease of 22,000 from the previous week That also is the lowest level since March 14, 2020. The four-week moving average for continuing claims dropped to 2.84 million.

Read more at Reuters


Next Up…. The Mu Variant 

One of the newest variants of COVID-19, known as Mu, has spread to 42 countries, but early studies suggest that it is less easily transmitted than the dangerous Delta variant, which has triggered a resurgence of the pandemic in the U.S. and many other countries.

Scientists believe that the new variant cannot compete with the Delta variant, which is highly contagious. “Whether it could have gone higher or not if there was no Delta, that’s hard to really say,” says Alex Bolze, a geneticist at the genomics company Helix.

Read more at Nat Geo


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 371

U.S. Job Openings Rose to a Record 10.9 Million in July

U.S. job openings rose to a fresh record high in July. The number of available positions rose to 10.9 million during the month from an upwardly revised 10.2 million in June, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed Wednesday. 

Employers have offered incentives to attract applicants — like higher wages and one-time bonuses — but the pool of available workers remains constrained by pandemic-related factors. Looking ahead, hiring constraints should ebb as virus fears abate and schools reopen for in-person learning. However, the surge of infections related to the delta variant and its impact on schools and Americans’ general sense of safety in the workplace could delay significant improvement in filling positions.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


889,000 Manufacturing Openings In July: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Of the 10.9 million job openings in the United States in July 889,000 were in the manufacturing sector. Up from 880,000 in June and 402,000 a year ago.  Of the those 481,000 were in durable goods and 408,000 in non durable goods. 

There were a total of 441,000 hires in the sector in July, down from 483,000 in June and up from 362,000 a year ago.  Total separations were 423,000 in July down from 427,000 in June and up from 378,000 a year ago. 

View the JOLTS table at the BLS website


Yellen: US on Track to Default on National Debt in October

In a Wednesday letter, Yellen said that the Treasury Department would run out of cash and extraordinary measures to keep the federal government within its legal borrowing limit some time next month. 

“Given this uncertainty, the Treasury Department is not able to provide a specific estimate of how long the extraordinary measures will last. However, based on our best and most recent information, the most likely outcome is that cash and extraordinary measures will be exhausted during the month of October,” Yellen wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Read more at The Hill


Biden Escalates Shutdown Stare-Down with Hurricane Aid, Afghan Plea

The White House asked Congress on Tuesday to include hurricane relief and money for Afghan resettlement in a package to fund the government later this month, upping the ante in the latest shutdown scare.

Those special requests will increase the political pain for any lawmaker planning to oppose the funding patch Congress needs to pass this month to keep government agencies open beyond Sept. 30. Top Democrats have also been flirting with the idea of adding action on the debt limit to that package, a move that would further squeeze Republicans who have pledged zero cooperation as the Treasury Department nears a breaking point on the nation’s borrowing limit.

Read more at Politico


US COVID-19 Update – Covid-19 Testing Is Keeping Some Students in School and Out of Quarantine

Some schools are trying a new plan to keep students safely in the classroom: Rather than quarantining children who have an in-school contact with a positive case, they are testing them. A lot.  The method keeps children in school after exposure to a classmate or teacher who tested positive for Covid-19 if they test negative at least every other day.

Known as test-to-stay, the approach is a higher transmission risk than keeping exposed students at home, but some public-health experts and educators say the trade-off is worth it to avoid missed days in class.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday September 8th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 68.4 of all New Yorkers – 13,226,742 (plus 21,411 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,400,008 (plus 2,605) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 61.0% of all New Yorkers – 11,869,544 are fully vaccinated (Plus 19,678)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,240,722 (plus 2,583) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday September 7th.  There were 31 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,805.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,415.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.34%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.74%

Useful Websites:


Poll: Number of Workers Saying Employer is Requiring Vaccines Doubled in last Month

Nearly one-fifth of U.S. workers said their employer is requiring staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as of last month, according to a Gallup survey released Wednesday and 55 percent of employees say their companies are encouraging but not requiring vaccinations, down from 62 percent in July. The percentage of employees who say their employer is not taking a stance dropped from 29 percent to 26 percent.

Some of the nation’s largest employers, announced vaccine mandates last month. More companies enacted vaccine requirements after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.  Other companies are considering harsher penalties for unvaccinated workers as an alternative to a vaccine mandate. Last month, Delta Air Lines announced that it would enact a $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated workers enrolled in the company’s health care plan.

Read more at The Hill


BSK: Employers Activate Your HERO Act Plans!

On Sept. 6, 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul directed the NYS Commissioner of Health to designate COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. The designation is official and available on the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) website. 

Now that such a designation has been made, employers are required to implement or “activate” their Plans. The Standard also outlines specific details regarding implementation of the airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans when there is a designated outbreak. This includes immediately reviewing their current plan, updating the plan to incorporate current information, guidance and any mandatory requirements as necessary or appropriate, and finalizing and promptly activating the plan. It also includes a “verbal review” requirement, distribution of the plans, posting a copy of the plan and ensuring that a copy of the plan is accessible to employees during all work shifts. 

Read more at Bond Schoeneck & King


Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions Shares HERO Act Compliance Tips

Through this new designation, all employers must implement workplace safety plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The NY HERO Act—signed into law on May 5, 2021—mandated extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the following were created:

  • Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard;
  • Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan; and
  • Various industry-specific model plans (scroll to bottom of page) for airborne infectious disease prevention.

Ethan Allen HERO Act Workplace Safety Plans to Protect Against COVID


Intel to Invest Up to 80 Billion Euros in Boosting EU Chip Capacity

Intel Corp (INTC.O) on Tuesday said it could invest as much as 80 billion euros in Europe over the next decade to boost the region’s chip capacity and will open up its semiconductor plant in Ireland for automakers. CEO Pat Gelsinger, speaking at Munich’s IAA auto show, also said the company would announce the locations of two major new European chip fabrication plants by the end of the year.

There is speculation about possible production sites, with Germany and France seen as leading contenders while Poland, where Intel also has a presence, also in the picture. 

Read more at Reuters


Ida’s Fallout Continues to Cripple U.S. Oil Production

Nearly 80% of U.S. oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains offline, almost 10 days after Hurricane Ida tore through Louisiana, as companies struggle to restart offshore platforms. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 17% of U.S. oil output, and about 5% of natural gas output. 

Myriad problems are combining to slow the recovery, according to analysts and company representatives. Key ports and airports were knocked offline, slowing the redeployment of staff and equipment. Companies haven’t been able to find enough offshore staff, as workers tend to their families and homes following the storm. Oil and gas processing plants and other key onshore facilities were damaged or remain without electricity, as widespread power outages persist.

Read more at the WSJ


NAM Launches Grassroots “Manufacturers United”

With major policy issues coming to a head this fall in Washington, the National Association of Manufacturers this week launched Manufacturers United—a new digital platform to power the industry’s grassroots advocacy. “What’s at stake, fast facts and useful statistics, how to take action—it’s all there to help individual manufacturers find information and act on it to create an impact.” said NAM Assistant Vice President of Advocacy Michael O’Brien.

Research shows that persistent, sustained advocacy is incredibly important—and that outreach from individual constituents has the most impact, especially when policymakers are undecided on an issue. Manufacturers United unleashes the power of manufacturers who have been interested in advocacy but haven’t known where to start. “

Visit Manufacturers United


Americans Say They’re Now Less Likely to Work Far Into Their 60s

Americans say it’s increasingly unlikely that they’ll work deep into their 60s, according to new data from the New York Federal Reserve. More than 1 million older workers have left the labor market since March 2020. Some Americans have been rethinking their priorities after the trauma of Covid-19 — with a bigger nest egg to fall back on, thanks to exuberant financial markets. For others the withdrawal may be involuntary, driven by a lack of employment prospects. 

The share of respondents expecting to work past the age of 62 dropped to 50.1% in the New York Fed’s July labor-market survey, from 51.9% a year earlier — the lowest on record in a study that’s been conducted since 2014. The numbers saying they’re likely to be employed when they’re older than 67 also dropped, to 32.4% from 34.1%.

Read more at Bloomberg Wealth


Natural Gas Price Climb Continues

The benchmark U.S. natural gas price has nearly doubled over the past year. The front-month Henry Hub contract jumped from $2.406 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) at the beginning of September 2020 to as much as $4.606/MMBtu early on September 2, 2021.  Prices have rallied despite the fact that the biggest gas-producing basin, Appalachia, saw in the first half of 2021 its highest average output since natural gas production in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations started in 2008. 

Overall American dry natural gas production is rising. But it’s not increasing so quickly as to offset surging U.S. gas exports via pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes, which have been setting all-time high records this year. Scorching summer heat waves and low natural gas inventories have also driven natural gas prices higher over the past few months. 

Read more at Oilprice.com


Citing Fatigue American Airlines Pilots Plan Protests

American Airlines pilots are planning to protest work conditions, citing fatigue they say has been caused by their company’s mismanagement. Allied Pilots Association (APA) says there will be protests by pilots for the company at Miami, Dallas and other airports, with the first scheduled for Miami on Oct. 19. 

“As pilots, our job is to transport our passengers as safely and reliably as possible, while American Airlines management’s job is to support those efforts. Unfortunately, management has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to run a reliable airline, and has failed to give us the tools we need to do our jobs,” APA, which represents all 13,400 American Airlines pilots, said in a statement sent out to pilots on Tuesday.

Read more at The Hill


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 370

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Expire

Nearly 18 months after Congress came to the rescue of jobless Americans, its historic expansion of the nation’s unemployment benefits system expired nationwide this weekend. Lawmakers, who extended the three pandemic programs in December and March, are not expected to renew them again. A key component of the relief effort was a federal weekly supplement for out-of-work Americans. Initially, the jobless received a $600-a-week boost from April through July of 2020. Congress then revived the enhancement in late December but reduced it to $300 a week.

Lawmakers also created two other measures to aid the jobless when the coronavirus struck. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provided payments for freelancers, the self-employed, independent contractors and certain people affected by the outbreak, while the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program extended payments for those who’ve exhausted their regular state benefits. President Biden said last month that states can use federal relief funds to extend the programs beyond Labor Day, but so far none have said they will do so.

Read more at CNN


August Jobs Report is Concerning News for Fed

Disappointing August jobs numbers intensified the economic uncertainty caused by the Delta variant, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve as it considers when to reduce its policy support and on the White House as it tries to get more Americans vaccinated.

A one-month slowdown is probably not enough to upend the Fed’s policy plans, but it does inject a dose of caution. It also will ramp up scrutiny of upcoming data as the central bank debates when to take its first steps toward a more normal policy setting by slowing purchases of government-backed bonds.

Read more at the New York Times


Surgeon General: Success in Pandemic ‘Does Not Equal No Cases’

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told Politico that success with the coronavirus pandemic does not mean there will be no COVID-19 cases.  “It is really important that we convey that success does not equal no cases,” Murthy said. “Success looks like very few people in the hospital and very few dying.”

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths were all much higher on Labor Day in 2021 than Labor Day in 2020, underscoring the severity of the delta variant of the coronavirus. 

Read more at The Hill


Biden to Outline Strategy for Controlling Delta Variant

President Biden on Thursday will outline additional steps his administration is taking to get the coronavirus pandemic under control as cases and hospitalizations increase in pockets of the country. He will deliver remarks laying out what a White House official described as a six-pronged strategy to slow the spread of the highly infectious delta variant and boost vaccination rates.

Biden indicated last week following an underwhelming jobs report that his administration is looking for ways to make it safer for kids to return to school and for workers to return to the office.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID-19 Update – 75 percent of Adults Have at Least One COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

Three-fourths of U.S. adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a White House official announced on Tuesday. White House Data Director Cyrus Shahpar marked the milestone in a tweet, saying the country “just hit” 75 percent of adults with at least one shot.

He said that from Sunday through Tuesday, 1.51 million doses have been administered, with 681,000 newly vaccinated and 105,000 additional doses, while noting that there is “as usual, lower reporting over the holiday weekend,” referring to Labor Day.

Read more at The Hill


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday September 7th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 68.0 of all New Yorkers – 13,205,331 (plus 14,188 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,397,403 (plus 1,303) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 60.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,849,866 are fully vaccinated (Plus 11073)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,238,139 (plus 922) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday September 6th.  There were 35 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,768.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,256.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.27%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.62%

Useful Websites:


COVID-19 Designated ‘Airborne Infectious Disease’ Under State Law

Governor Hochul Monday announced that the commissioner of health has designated COVID-19 a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under New York State’s HERO Act, which requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans in the event of an airborne infectious disease, helping to prevent workplace infections.

The NY HERO Act mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the law, all employers are required to adopt a workplace safety plan, and implement it for all airborne infectious diseases designated by the New York State Department of Health. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor, or develop their own safety plan in compliance with HERO Act standards.


August Auto Employment Jump Drives Manufacturing Jobs Growth

The latest jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the U.S. manufacturing sector added 37,000 jobs in August, the majority of which were in motor vehicles and parts production. Auto and truck manufacturers hired 24,000 people, forming the lion’s share of the 31,000 jobs created in durable manufacturing and dwarfing nondurable goods’ 6,000 new August jobs.

No other manufacturing sector came close to the kind of hiring last month. Fabricated metal products, also categorized under durable goods production, hired 6,600 more people. Plastics and rubber product manufacturing, the fastest-growing nondurable goods sector, hired about 3,100.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Protesters Oppose Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations

Dozens of men and women lined Route 211 in the Town of Wallkill on Monday afternoon carrying signs opposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. One sign read, “Don’t fire frontline heroes,” a reference to a state mandate that all healthcare workers must be vaccinated against the deadly disease that has killed over 55,000 New York residents. Other signs read, “Let me call my owns shots,” and “We do not co-parent with the government.”

Health officials nationwide have said 80 to 90 percent of those who catch the virus are unvaccinated. It could not be learned if any of the protesters had received COVID-19 shots of their own free will. The state mandate is set to go into effect on September 27. 

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


German ZEW Economic Sentiment Index Falls Further 26.5 in September

Optimism about Germany’s economy has continued to slide, according to a survey published today. The ZEW economic-sentiment indicator, which polls around 350 financial-market experts, fell for three consecutive months over the summer and has now dropped for a fourth, falling another 13.9 points. Concerns about a new wave of covid-19 and supply-chain bottlenecks are causes for pessimism. Data show that German inflation rose to 3.9% in August from a year earlier. The composite purchasing-managers’ index, which covers both the services and manufacturing sectors, expanded at a weaker pace, falling from 62.4 in July to 60 in August.

But there is some good news. The federal statistics office revealed this week that industrial orders rose by 3.4% in July. And the finance ministry claims that the German economy is on track for a strong recovery in the third quarter, driven mainly by domestic demand.

Read more at FXStreet 


Virus Resurgence Clouds Business Travel Rebound

Airlines and hotels had hoped that business travel—one of the most lucrative pillars of their business—would start to bounce back in the coming months. Those hopes are fading as the busy summer travel season peters out, and the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 postpones some companies’ plans to return to offices and resume in-person meetings and events.

About 60% of the more than 400 business travelers who responded to a survey by Morning Consult for the American Hotel & Lodging Association said they would postpone coming trips.

Read more at the WSJ


Toyota To Spend $13.6 Billion on Electric Car Batteries By 2030

Toyota said Tuesday it will invest $13.6 billion into batteries for electric and hybrid cars by 2030, as the world’s biggest automaker pushes to make its production carbon-neutral. The Japanese car giant said in a presentation it plans to pour 1.5 trillion yen into the development and supply of batteries for electric vehicles and that it aims to cut battery costs by half per car by 2030.

Toyota said in June it aimed to make its production carbon-neutral by 2035, replacing the previous target date of 2050. One of the ways the company hopes to realize its goal is by introducing new technologies for painting vehicles — one of auto production’s most power-gobbling procedures — such as replacing paint with adhesive film.

Read more at IndustryWeek         


Supply Chain Leaders Are Optimistic About Capacity Ahead of ‘Official’ Peak Shipping Season

Companies have confidence in their e-commerce strategies ahead of the official 2021 peak shipping season that traditionally runs from September through December, according to a study released on August 31 from GlobalTranz Enterprices, LLC.

At the same time, the survey of supply chain decision-makers highlights anticipated challenges for the second half of the year, from new COVID-19 variants threatening another phase of lockdowns to ongoing challenges in recruiting and retaining employees.

Read more at Material Handling and Logistics


Creating Well-Being in the Workplace

Due to the life-altering experience of the pandemic, our thinking about the workplace has changed. A fundamental change is the realization that workers that had been taken for granted are now categorized as essential. At the same time, employees are determining what’s essential to have in their work which is leading many people to leave their jobs.  Dubbed the “great resignation, it’s a wake-up call for leaders who must figure out both how to hold onto employees and be able to attract future workers.

Jen Fisher, U.S. chief well-being officer, Deloitte, has a few ideas: 

Read more at IndustryWeek


Ryanair Ends Jet Order Talks With Boeing Amid Price Dispute

Boeing (BA.N) faces a standoff with one of its biggest customers after Ireland’s Ryanair (RYA.I) said it had ended talks over a purchase of 737 MAX 10 jets worth tens of billions of dollars due to differences over price. A large new Ryanair order would provide a boost to the U.S. planemaker as it rebuilds confidence in the MAX, grounded for 20 months until November after two fatal crashes. It would also speed a tentative industry recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rare decision to go public over big-ticket airplane negotiations comes after months of wrangling that had already delayed a deal for the largest version of the 737 MAX when Ryanair re-ordered a smaller model in December.

Read more at Reuters


 

 

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Daily Briefing – 369

Why the August Jobs Report Missed so Big

The August jobs report out just before Labor Day missed big. The economy added just 235,000 new payrolls, dramatically falling short of expectations of 733,000 — by a third. The unemployment rate was in line with expectations at 5.2%, down from July’s 5.4%.

“The catalyst for the slowdown appears to be the recent surge in the COVID cases as high touch sectors such as leisure and hospitality (0k) and retail trade (-29k) experienced a meaningful slowdown in employment activity,” Bank of America analysts wrote in a research note Friday morning.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


A Deeper Look Into the ISM Manufacturing Survey

The Institute for Supply Management’s latest PMI on manufacturing shows the sector has returned to accelerating growth.

  • The main index for U.S. manufacturing rose 0.4 points to 59.9% in August after slipping 1.1 points in July.
  • The ISM’s indexes of production and new orders both rose about 2 points, sustaining growth for a fifteenth month.
  • The manufacturing employment index dropped 4 points to 49.0%, indicating a faster contraction than it saw in June, when it fell into contraction for the first time since the difficult summer of 2020.
  • The indexes for trade—new export orders and imports—both marked modest growth.
  • In a sign of persistently strong demand, the ISM’s prices index hit 79.4% in August—a whopping 6.3 points lower than it was in July, a remarkably high figure for rising prices.
  • Supplier deliveries continued to slow. On that index, for which a figure above 50% indicates slower deliveries, August’s figure dropped 3 points to 69.5%. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


New Requirements and Guidance for the Safe Reopening of New York Schools

Late Friday, the NYS Public Health and Health Planning Council passed an emergency regulation and the Health Commissioner issued a determination requiring all teachers, administrators and other school employees to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing unless they show proof of vaccination, with either a CDC vaccine card or the Excelsior Pass.

Governor Hochul also announced that the New York State Department of Health has finalized and released official guidance for classroom instruction. These new actions follow the Governor’s announcement last week of a mask requirement for everyone in school buildings during instructional hours and extracurricular activities. The guidance prioritizes in-person learning and details recommendations and requirements for vaccinations, face masks, physical distancing, and testing to monitor potential transmission, among other areas. The guidance largely tracks with the CDC guidance which districts were advised to follow. It is also intended as a floor and schools have the flexibility to go beyond the guidance.    “My top priority is to get children back to school and protect the environment so they can learn, and everyone is safe,” Governor Hochul said. 


Child Covid-19 Cases Rise in States Where Schools Opened Earliest

The recent spread of the highly contagious Delta variant has thrown back-to-school plans into disarray, temporarily driving tens of thousands of students back to virtual learning or pausing instruction altogether. Since the school year kicked off in late July, at least 1,000 schools across 31 states have closed because of Covid-19, The shutdowns are hitting classrooms especially hard in the Deep South, where most schools were among the first to open, a possible warning of what’s to come as the rest of the nation’s students start school this month.

Many school systems are reluctant to release contingency plans and are instead forging ahead with solutions that, when possible, keep classrooms open amid outbreaks, mass quarantines and acute staff shortages. School administrators are responding to the sporadic and unpredictable outbreaks with measures like new masking mandates, frequent testing and vaccine mandates for employees. Some say they hope a vaccine for children under 12 happens soon.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID-19 Update

Daily incidence continues to increase, but the trend is tapering off toward a peak or plateau. On August 27, the US surpassed 150,000 new cases per day, and the current average of 153,245 is the highest since January 28. Daily mortality also continues to increase, and the mortality trend may be starting to taper off as well. The US surpassed 1,000 deaths per day on August 24, and the current average of 1,046 deaths per day is the highest since March 11.

The US has administered 372 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and daily vaccinations have leveled off over the past several days, hovering at slightly more than 800,000 doses per day since August 23. We have not observed a marked increase in daily vaccinations since the US FDA issued full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  Among adults, 74.5% have received at least 1 dose,, and approximately 63.7% of adults are fully vaccinated. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Sunday September 5th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 68.0 of all New Yorkers – 13,164,306 (plus 23,145 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,394,038 (plus 1,843) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 60.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,818,492 are fully vaccinated (Plus 20,712)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,235,689 (plus 1,737) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday September 54th.  There were 27 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,724.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,281.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.31%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.60%

Useful Websites:


Manufacturing Adds 37,000 Jobs in August

Job creation for August was a huge disappointment, with the economy adding just 235,000 positions, the Labor Department reported Friday.  Leisure and hospitality jobs stalled in August as the unemployment rate in the industry ticked higher to 9.1%.

Instead, professional and business services led gainers with 74,000 new positions. Other gainers included transportation and warehousing (53,000), private education (40,000) and manufacturing and other services, which each posted gains of 37,000.

Read more at CNBC


Congress Braces for Spending Fights Amid Threat of Government Shutdown, Debt Ceiling

Before October, the House is aiming to pass two major pieces of legislation: a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a forthcoming $3.5 trillion spending package backed by Democrats. They’ll also need to pass government funding legislation to avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1. House leadership has set a Sept. 27 deadline to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as committee chairs rush to finish drafting their portions of the larger spending package by Sept. 15 to hold a floor vote shortly thereafter.

Progressives have threatened to block the bipartisan bill if it comes to the floor before the Democratic-only measure that focuses on issues like health care, climate change and education. The party also faces a tough challenge sticking together on the reconciliation package in the Senate, where it can’t afford any defections. This past week, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) urged fellow Democrats to hit “pause” on the spending bill and warned that he wouldn’t back the proposed level of spending “without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt.

Read more at The Hill


Factory Orders Up in July, While Trade Deficit Shrinks

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed more than expected in July as imports declined likely because of shortages and a shift in domestic spending from goods to services. The Commerce Department said on Thursday that the trade gap fell 4.3% to $70.1 billion. Data for June was revised to show the deficit at $73.2 billion instead of $75.7 billion as previously reported.

The Commerce Department also reported that orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, which are seen as a measure of business spending plans on equipment, edged up 0.1% in July instead of being unchanged as reported last month. Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, rose 0.9%. 

Read more at The Financial Post


Survey: Why People Are Quitting Their Jobs 

For people who have recently quit their jobs, entrepreneurship is a very popular and appealing next step.  That’s according to a survey released Tuesday by Digital.com, a Seattle-based review site focused on small businesses. Among respondents who had quit their jobs in the last six months, 32 percent said they had done so to start their own businesses. Of those, 62 percent said their top motivation was to be their own boss.

Despite the challenges of running a business, “by pursuing a passion, work won’t feel like work, but will instead give you purpose, which is far more valuable than the dollars earned,” said Dennis Consorte, small-business consultant and expert at Digital.com in a company blog post about the survey. Potential entrepreneurs’ other top motivations for starting a business included a greater focus on their health (52 percent), and better pay and benefits (51 percent). Respondents could select multiple options.

Read more at INC


Walmart Gives Raises to More Than 565,000 Store Workers

Walmart Inc. will raise pay for hundreds of thousands of its U.S. store workers as a tight labor market continues to create fierce competition for staff.  The company said Thursday it will give raises to more than 565,000 of its 1.6 million U.S. workers, targeting those who work at registers, in the food and household goods areas and who restock shelves.

Those workers will receive at least a $1-an-hour raise starting Sept. 25, the company said in a memo to staff, bringing Walmart’s overall average wage to $16.40 per hour. Store workers in some regions will continue to be paid $11 an hour, an hourly pay floor Walmart established in 2018.

Read more at the WSJ


340,000 Individuals Filed New Unemployment Claims, the Lowest Since March 2020

The U.S. saw the least number of new unemployment filings since March 2020 last week as employers sought out more workers to fill open positions during the recovery. Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended August 28: 340,000 vs. 345,000 and a revised 354,000 during the prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended August 21: 2.748 million vs. 2.808 million and a revised 2.908 million during the prior week.

As of the week ended Aug. 14, about 12.2 million Americans were claiming benefits of all forms, including both regular state and enhanced federal unemployment benefits. That marked an increase of nearly 179,000 versus the previous period, though the overall trend over the past several months has been decreasing. 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


GM Halts Production at Nearly all North America Assembly Plants Due to New Chip Problem

General Motors will idle nearly all its assembly plants in North America starting Monday as the COVID-19 pandemic affects production of semiconductor chips overseas.

GM said its Arlington Assembly in Texas, where it makes its highly profitable full-size SUVs, will run regular production next week, along with Flint Assembly, where it makes its heavy-duty pickups, Bowling Green Assembly in Kentucky, where it makes its Corvette, and a portion of Lansing Grand River Assembly, where it will make some Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac Blackwing cars. But all other assembly plants in North America were idled Monday. 

Read more at the Detroit Free Press


Ford Cuts F-150 Pickup Production Again Due to Chip Shortage

The persistent semiconductor shortage is once again forcing Ford Motor Co. to reduce production of some of its most lucrative vehicles, including the F-150 pickup. The cuts affect the company’s Kansas City Assembly plant, as well as plants in Kentucky and Michigan.

“Our teams are making the most of our available semiconductor allocation, finding unique solutions to provide as many high-quality vehicles as possible to our dealers and customers,” Ford vice president of manufacturing and labor affairs John Savona said in an internal memo to employees.

Read more at CNBC


Boeing’s Delivery of New 787 Dreamliners Likely Delayed Until at Least Late October

Deliveries of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner will likely remain halted until at least late October as the plane maker has been unable to persuade air-safety regulators to approve its proposal to inspect the aircraft, people familiar with the matter said. The impasse has kept Boeing from moving more than $25 billion worth of Dreamliners.

With almost all deliveries paused for nearly a year, airlines and other Boeing customers increasingly are able to use the delay to walk away from deliveries or negotiate for concessions from the aerospace giant. Deliveries were first halted because the company and the Federal Aviation Administration began taking a deeper look at the plane’s manufacturing defects. The holdup has choked off an important source of cash for Boeing and complicated plans for airlines.

Read more at the WSJ


The Pandemic’s True Death Toll – Revisiting The Economist’s Excess Death Model

How many people have died because of the covid-19 pandemic? The answer depends both on the data available, and on how you define “because”. Many people who die while infected with SARS-CoV-2 are never tested for it. Conversely, some people whose deaths have been attributed to covid-19 had other ailments that might have ended their lives on a similar timeframe anyway. And what about people who died of preventable causes during the pandemic, because hospitals full of covid-19 patients could not treat them? If such cases count, they must be offset by deaths that did not occur but would have in normal times, such as those caused by flu or air pollution.

Rather than trying to distinguish between types of deaths, The Economist’s approach is to count all of them. The standard method of tracking changes in total mortality is “excess deaths”. This number is the gap between how many people died in a given region during a given time period, regardless of cause, and how many deaths would have been expected if a particular circumstance (such as a natural disaster or disease outbreak) had not occurred. Although the official number of deaths caused by covid-19 is now 4.6m, our single best estimate is that the actual toll is 15.2m people. We find that there is a 95% chance that the true value lies between 9.4m and 18.2m additional deaths.

Read more at The Economist


 

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Daily Briefing – 368

U.S. Manufacturing  Sector Edges Up in August – ISM

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Wednesday its index of national factory activity inched up to 59.9 last month from a reading of 59.5 in July. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in manufacturing, which accounts for 11.9% of the U.S. economy. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index falling to 58.6.

Manufacturing is holding up even as spending is rotating back to services from goods because of vaccinations against COVID-19. But shortages of labor and raw materials, especially semiconductors, remain a constraint.

Read more at Reuters


Hochul Calls Lawmakers Into Special Session to Address Evictions

The New York State Senate and Assembly convened a special session of the state Legislature Wednesday to extend New York’s moratorium on evictions. The ban on evictions was set to expire at the end of the day Tuesday. Hochul plans to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and rental assistance program through January 15.

The moratorium was put in place to protect tenants from being evicted due to financial hardship due to the pandemic. It has been criticized by landlords who haven’t been able to collect rent to pay their own bills. She’s calling the session also to discuss changes to the Open Meetings Law, hoping to make meetings more accessible statewide.

Read more at at WWNY


The Fed has bought $4 Trillion in Assets During the Pandemic or 18% of GDP

Over the past year Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, has again and again used the same phrasing to kick off his press conferences after it sets interest rates. “Good afternoon. At the Federal Reserve, we are strongly committed to achieving the monetary-policy goals that Congress has given us: maximum employment and price stability.”

The simple wording belies a remarkable evolution in Fed policy and practice on his watch. The Fed has bought more than $4trn in assets during the pandemic (equivalent to 18% of gdp), dwarfing the scale of its actions after the global financial crisis, and swelling its total balance-sheet to $8.3trn.  And in the process, he has presided over a bold gamble, keeping policy ultra-loose even as inflation soars. To his supporters—of whom there are many—he saved America from an economic catastrophe. To his critics, however, he is steering it into danger.

Read more at The Economist


U.S. Home-Price Growth Rose to Record in June

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 18.6% in the year that ended in June, up from a 16.8% annual rate the prior month. June marked the highest annual rate of price growth since the index began in 1987.

Home prices have skyrocketed this year, as the inventory of homes for sale remains well below typical levels and ultralow interest rates have spurred demand. Homes listed for sale this spring and summer routinely received multiple offers and sold above asking price. The number of houses for sale has ticked higher in recent weeks, but inventory continues to be low, especially for lower-priced homes. Active listings in the four weeks ended Aug. 22 were up 16% from their recent low in the four weeks ended in March but still down 23% from a year earlier, according to real-estate brokerage Redfin Corp.

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID Update – With 4 Months Left in 2021, Here’s Where the US Stands With Covid-19

September marks a year and a half since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic and the United States issued a national emergency because of the virus.

The virus is still running rampant, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths back to levels not seen since the winter thanks to the new Delta variant, according to a CNN data analysis. Despite that, there’s hope on the horizon when it comes to the fight against the virus now that more than half of the total US population is vaccinated.

Read more at CNN


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday September 1st:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 67.4 of all New Yorkers – 13,029,560 (plus 35,311 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,382,246 (plus 3,702) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 60.1% of all New Yorkers – 11,711,557 are fully vaccinated (Plus 29,944)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,226,872 (plus 2,840) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday August 31st.  There were 27 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,621.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,285.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.36%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.67%

Useful Websites:


 

WSJ Analysis: States That Cut Unemployment Benefits Saw Limited Impact on Job Growth

States that ended enhanced federal unemployment benefits early have so far seen about the same job growth as states that continued offering the pandemic-related extra aid, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis and economists. Nonfarm payrolls rose 1.33% in July from April in the 25 states that ended the benefits and 1.37% in the other 25 states and the District of Columbia, the Journal analysis of Labor Department data showed. 

Economists who have conducted their own analyses of the government data say the rates of job growth in states that ended and states that maintained the benefits are, from a statistical perspective, about the same.

Read more in the WSJ


How to Address Addiction Issues in the Workplace

When most people hear about drug overdoses, they immediately think of the stereotypical homeless, strung out “druggie.” But the truth is, millions of people struggle with addiction every day, most of whom you would never suspect, including doctors, attorneys, IT engineers, heavy equipment operators, “soccer moms” and successful entrepreneurs.

The statistics are shocking and overwhelming: substance use has skyrocketed since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns and overdose deaths hit an all-time high of more than 93,000 in 2020, an increase of nearly 30% from 2019, according to provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Read more at EHS Today


White House to Unveil Steps Aimed at Easing Housing Supply Shortage

The changes would draw upon the administrative authority of government regulators such as the Federal Housing Finance Agency as Congress weighs broader policy changes tied to the debate over revamping U.S. infrastructure, according to a draft plan reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal. FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage giants that back about half of the $11 trillion mortgage market.

Individually, each regulatory move is technical and modest. Collectively, though, “they should have a meaningful impact, particularly because they are all focused on the lower end of the market, where there is the most need,” said Jim Parrott, a former Obama administration housing adviser, commenting on the draft.

Read more at the WSJ


Pfizer Launches Later-Stage Study of Pill to Treat COVID-19

Pfizer on Wednesday announced that it had initiated a later-stage clinical trial for a pill that could potentially treat COVID-19. Pfizer is beginning a trial that will enroll 1,140 participants, the company said. 

If proven to be safe and effective, the drug could fill an unmet need for a widespread, easier-to-use treatment, as opposed to an infusion like remdesivir, another treatment. The drug could eventually be used in a “broad” population of patients, Pfizer said, namely people who have symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and are not hospitalized or at risk of severe illness.

Read more at The Hill


White House Appoints Port Envoy

The White House announced August 27 that it would appoint John D. Porcari to Biden’s supply-chain disruption task force as its port envoy. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called Porcari “uniquely qualified” to work on port congestion thanks to his experience with public and private port infrastructure.

International supply chains around the world are in the midst of a monthslong disruption due to spikes in demand and delays exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to address those issues, President Biden announced a task force on supply chain disruptions shortly after entering office.

Read more at IndustryWeek


IHS PMI: Supply Bottlenecks Slow German Factory Growth

Supply-chain bottlenecks pushed factory activity in Germany to its lowest level in six months. IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing showed that growth fell to 62.6 in August from 65.9 the previous month (though anything above 50 indicates growth). Separately, German retail sales fell by 5.1% in July after two consecutive months of growth.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


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 August 31, 2021. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended the Form I-9 requirement flexibility policy until December 31, 2021.

See the original ICE news release from March 23, 2020 for more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9. Please also consult ICE’s guidance for clarification on this provision.


Extensive Ida Storm Damage Hurts Oil Industry Recovery Effort

Energy companies on Wednesday scrambled to open new offshore supply operations and restart pipelines and platforms, days after Hurricane Ida slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast, executives said.

Oil refineries, however, could take weeks to restart while utilities work to restore power and supply water, they said. Damaged roads, power and transport facilities slowed efforts to complete aerial surveys of offshore platforms and pipelines three days after the storm tore through the Gulf of Mexico. The surveys are first step to returning about 80% of the region’s oil output halted by the storm.

Read more at Reuters


 

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Daily Briefing – 367

Hochul Announces New Measures to Combat COVID-19 Delta Variant

Governor Hochul yesterday announced new measures to combat the COVID-19 Delta variant and updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress combating the virus.

Getting children back to school where they can learn most effectively and protecting the students, teachers and staff are top priorities. Building on the state department of health’s directive requiring universal masking for anyone entering schools, the governor will be working with localities, the department of health and the Public Health and Health Planning Council in the days ahead to implement a mandatory weekly COVID testing for school staff who are not vaccinated.

Read the press release


Long COVID Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation by Employers is Laid Out by DOJ and HHS

The civil rights offices of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued a joint guidance for employers regarding workers with Long COVID—defined as COVID-19 symptoms that persist for months, and perhaps longer. In addition to the guidance, the document provides resources for additional information and best practices. This document focuses solely on Long COVID, and does not address when COVID-19 may meet the legal definition of disability, DOJ and HHS said.

The guidance points out that Long COVID can be a physical or mental impairment. Generally, any of the symptoms patients suffer from during a short-term bout of the disease have been found to persist over longer periods in some patients.  


CDC Panel Says More Evidence Needed for Booster Recommendation

Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said the evidence on boosters is not clear and indicated it would likely consider a risk-based approach that would prioritize residents of long-term care facilities and health workers rather than all eligible Americans at once. This is a substantially different approach than the one proposed by the Biden administration.

COVID-19 vaccines continue to maintain high protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death. While some studies have found some waning of effectiveness against infection, members of the panel said the evidence is not clear enough to justify a booster recommendation.

Read more at The Hill


COVID-19 Tests Again in Short Supply as Infections Soar, Schools Reopen

U.S. companies are scrambling to boost production of coronavirus tests increasingly in short supply as COVID-19 cases soar and schools and employers revive surveillance programs that will require tens of millions of tests, according to industry executives and state health officials. Test manufacturers including Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), Becton Dickinson and Co (BDX.N), and Quidel Corp (QDEL.O) in recent months scaled back production of rapid COVID-19 tests, which can produce results on-site in minutes, as well as test kits that are sent to laboratories for analysis. The move followed a nearly 90% decline in testing and a similarly large drop in COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Now, with the Delta variant pushing U.S. COVID-19 cases well above 100,000 per day, test makers are working to quickly reverse course, industry executives and state officials told Reuters.

Read more at Reuters


US COVID Update – Cases, Mortality Climb, But More Slowly

The CDC reported 38.9 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 636,015 deaths. Daily incidence continues to increase, but the trend is tapering off toward a peak or plateau. The current average of 149,334 new cases per day is the highest since January 29. Daily mortality also continues to increase, and the mortality trend may be starting to taper off as well. The current average of 970 deaths per day is the highest since March 13.

Meanwhile the US has administered 369.6 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and daily vaccinations appear to have peaked over the past several days.  Notably, we have not observed a marked increase in daily vaccinations since the US FDA issued full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  A total of 173.8 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 52.4% of the total population. 

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday August 31th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 67.3 of all New Yorkers – 12,994,249 (plus 24,935 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,379,288 (plus 3,000) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 60.0% of all New Yorkers – 11,681,613 are fully vaccinated (Plus 22,625)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,224,032 (plus 2,661) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday August 30th.  There were 22 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,602.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,234.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.35%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.70%

Useful Websites:


Delta Variant Fears are Deterring Americans from Seeking Work

Some employers are struggling to hire workers, forcing restaurants to shutter dining rooms or cut hours. Potential causes of the worker shortage have sparked no end of debate. Some blame generous unemployment benefits, while others point to a lack of child care and early retirements.

Now there’s another twist that could deter Americans from seeking work: Renewed fear over contracting or spreading COVID-19 as the Delta variant sparks outbreaks, including breakthrough cases, across the nation. About 3.2 million Americans told the Census Bureau that they weren’t employed from between August 2 and August 16 because of concerns about the virus, up 30% from the previous polling period over the last two weeks of July.

Read more at CBS News


EU’s New Travel Recommendation for Americans: What You Need to Know

The European Union’s new recommendation to halt nonessential travel from the U.S. due to the rise of Covid-19 cases stateside could create fresh virus-related travel uncertainty.  Monday’s announcement suggested that vaccinated travelers will still be permitted into EU member countries, though it is up to each nation to set their own restrictions.

The EU travel list is reviewed every two weeks and isn’t binding for member states, though it has generally set the pattern for who can visit the 27-country bloc. The EU had previously decided in June to add the U.S. to its “safe list.”  The European recommendation could thwart some Americans’ fall and winter trip plans, adding more challenges to an already complex year for international travel. 

Read more at Reuters


Japan Suspends Use Of Additional 1 Million Moderna Vaccine Doses

Japan suspended another 1m Moderna vaccine-shots after they were found to be contaminated. In total, 2.6m doses have been affected and two people have died after being injected with spoiled Moderna jabs. Japan is battling its biggest surge in covid-19 infections amid a slow vaccine rollout. Support for the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, reached a new low in two polls.

The Japanese health ministry on Monday noted that some of the incidents reported may have been caused by needles being incorrectly inserted into vials which may have broken off bits of the rubber stopper.

Read more at Forbes


Not There Yet: The Euro Area’s Economy Grows

Late summer in Europe usually means sun-soaked holidays and out-of-office emails. Recently it has brought cheery economic news, too. Survey data measuring economic sentiment, released today by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, recorded a slight dip from an all-time high of 118 last month to 116.5 on the agency’s confidence index. The euro zone’s GDP began to expand again in the second quarter of the year. The wave of infections caused by the Delta variant of covid-19 is subsiding. Vaccination rates have gained pace. 

Yet not all the news is good. Output is still 3% below pre-covid levels. (America and China, by contrast, have regained all the ground they lost during the pandemic.) Supply-chain bottlenecks have crimped growth and sent prices higher, although the European Central Bank thinks the resulting inflation surge is transitory. Europe’s economic recovery is heartening. But it is incomplete.

Read more at Eurostat


China’s Economy Under Pressure as Factory Activity Slows 

China’s businesses and the broader economy came under increasing pressure in August as factory activity expanded at a slower pace while the services sector slumped into contraction, raising the likelihood of more near-term policy support to boost growth.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 50.1 in August from 50.4 in July, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Tuesday, holding just above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected it to slip to 50.2.

Read more at Reuters


Sanders blasts lobbyists plans targeting Democrats’ spending bill

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took aim at business lobbyists targeting a $3.5 trillion spending package being drafted by Democrats that would raise taxes on the wealthy to help cover costs for funding boosts in areas related to climate change, education, and other party-backed priorities. “This is what oligarchy and a corrupt political system are all about. The rich and large corporations get richer, and their lobbyists do everything possible to protect their wealth and greed. Not this time,” Sanders tweeted. 

To offset the spending, Democrats say they plan to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. The spending plan has garnered significant backing from Sanders and other progressives, though the price tag and proposed tax hikes have raised concerns among moderates.

Read more at The Hill


India is Set to Post Record Fiscal First-Quarter GDP 

India’s economy is expected to have grown at a record pace in the three months that ended in June — but analysts point out that the data is unlikely to paint a full picture of the country’s growth trajectory.

More than 40 economists polled by Reuters this month predicted that gross domestic product rose 20% on-year for the April to June period — India’s fiscal first quarter. Official data is due Tuesday around noon GMT. India’s fiscal year begins in April and ends in March the next year. If the 20% forecast is realized, it would be India’s fastest pace of growth since the country began measuring quarterly GDP in 1996. But, Tuesday’s data comes after India faced a sharp contraction in the comparable year-ago period, when most of the country was under a strict national lockdown. India’s economy contracted 24.4% during those three months.

Read more at CNBC


Newburgh Schools Delays Opening by One Week

If you have a child attending classes in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, you may have to make new arrangements as the school board has pushed the start date from Thursday, September 1 to Thursday, September 9.

“The additional time will allow the district to receive supplies to add more indoor and outdoor seating to maintain additional physical distancing during meal times,” Acting Superintendent Ed Forgit. “The time will also allow our grounds crew and custodial staff an opportunity to best prepare all of our facilities during those days for this adjustment, which will continue through Friday, September 3, 2021.” Forgit said the decision to delay the opening of school was “as a result of the initial guidance issued by the New York State Department of Health on this past Friday evening.”

Read more at Mid Hudson News


Louisiana Plastics & Chemical Companies Could See ‘Weeks’ Without Power

According to local CBS news source WAFB, Entergy, the utilities company that supplies all of Orleans Parish’s power, said August 29 that the destruction of a transmission tower brought down all eight electrical transmission lines sourcing New Orleans. Entergy said the loss of outside power led to a load imbalance in the city, which brought down local power generation as well.

The Southeastern coast of Louisiana is the home to much of the state’s oil and gas production and is also the region hit hardest by the hurricane. The greater New Orleans region is home to 7 petroleum refineries and about 10% of U.S. refining capacity. While oil refiners like Dow and chemical companies like Westlake Chemical shut down their Louisiana manufacturing operations to weather the storm, a persistent loss of power would prevent them from starting up again before power is restored to their factories. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


 

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Daily Briefing – 366

Powell Says Fed Could Start Scaling Back Stimulus This Year

Speaking to an audience of economist and CEOs and academics at a Virtual Jackson Hole Event, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed the central bank’s emerging plan to begin reversing its easy-money policies later this year while explaining in greater detail why he expects a recent surge in inflation to fade over time.  

At the Fed’s meeting late last month, “I was of the view, as were most participants, that if the economy evolved broadly as anticipated, it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace” of the Fed’s $120 billion in monthly asset purchases this year, Mr. Powell said Friday.  Since that meeting, the economy has seen “more progress in the form of a strong employment report for July, but also the further spread of the Delta variant” of the Covid-19 virus, Mr. Powell said Friday morning at a virtual symposium hosted by the Kansas City Fed.

Read More at the WSJ


As Schools Restart, Worry About the Delta Variant Rises, Vaccine Hesitancy Wanes

According to The Economist’s weekly polling with YouGov, an online firm, worry about the Delta variant has jumped in recent weeks. The percent of adults who say they are “very” or “somewhat” worried rose from 47% in late June to 58% this week. Yet this fear is accompanied by an only modest increase in favorable attitudes to vaccination. In YouGov’s data, the percentage of people saying they have or will get the jab increased only from 69% to 72% over the last month.

Concerns about in-school transmission are resurfacing. The majority of the public thinks that children should be required to wear masks to school. Yet despite the spectre of crowds of pupils packing maskless into school auditoriums, many parents are still unenthusiastic about vaccinating their children. Just over half of parents with children old enough have got theirs vaccinated or plan to do so.

Read more at The Economist


FDA Sees Growing Pressure to Authorize Vaccines for Children Under 12

Pressure on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is shifting to vaccine authorization for children under 12, now that the Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved for adults. 

With children going back to school and the delta variant raging, some experts and lawmakers are calling for the agency to act with more urgency and to clarify its timeline for authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine for children, given that none is currently available for those under 12. More than 100 House lawmakers wrote to the FDA last week asking for an update on its timeline for vaccines for children, given the current “alarming” situation. 

Read more at The Hill


NAM’s Timmons: Vaccines are Crucial for Worker Safety

Manufacturers should consider mandating COVID-19 vaccination even if they risk losing some workers, says National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons.  Llet’s be upfront about it: We have a very severe worker shortage in our country right now. We’re in competition now all across every sector for workers, but in the end it’s better to have live employees than sick or dead ones, so this is something I think all employers are going to be grappling with,” 

The number of companies, government entities and organizations that have adopted strict coronavirus vaccine policies has accelerated in recent weeks, as government and corporate leaders alike try to convince hesitant Americans to receive the lifesaving shots. 

Read more at CNBC


US COVID Update – Hospitalizations Approach a Peak as Delta Variant Spreads

Covid-19 hospitalizations nationwide crossed above 100,000 this week for the second time in the pandemic, overwhelming caregiver capacity in several states. Patients are younger, and disparities across race and ethnicity persist.

The climb in hospitalizations has been steep, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. “That spike is more exaggerated,” said Hugh Tappan, who oversees 11 HCA Healthcare Inc. hospitals in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In recent weeks, they have paused surgeries that could be delayed, diverted ambulances and stopped taking patients from other hospitals as capacity has become strained.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Saturday August 28th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.9 of all New Yorkers – 12,921,643 (plus 35,598 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,371,226 (plus 3,032) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.6% of all New Yorkers – 11,617,765 are fully vaccinated (Plus 28,371)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,217,754 (plus 2,527) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Friday August 26th.  There were 26 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,453.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,251.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.32%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.62%

Useful Websites:


Administration Likely to Approve Covid-19 Boosters at Six Months

Federal regulators are likely to approve a Covid-19 booster shot for vaccinated adults starting at least six months after the previous dose rather than the eight-month gap they previously announced, a person familiar with the plans said, as the Biden administration steps up preparations for delivering boosters to the public.

Data from vaccine manufacturers and other countries under review by the Food and Drug Administration is based on boosters being given at six months, the person said. The person said approval for boosters for all three Covid-19 shots being administered in the U.S.—those manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson —is expected in mid-September.

Read more at the WSJ


Origins of SARS-CoV-2: Window is Closing for Key Scientific Studies

A group of scientists tasked by the World Health Organization to study how covid-19 spread in Wuhan in 2019 took to Nature to defend their investigation and to warn that delays could make further studies “biologically impossible”. 

Scientific discussions between the international and Chinese teams during this mission were lively. Large amounts of information were exchanged on the basis of the work carried out. …We found the laboratory origin hypothesis too important to ignore, so brought it into the discussions with our Chinese counterparts. And we included it as one of the hypotheses for SARS-CoV-2 origin in our report.

Read more in Nature


More Than 90 percent of Gulf Oil Production ‘Shut In’ Ahead of Hurricane Ida

The top environmental oversight agency in the U.S. activated its hurricane response team Saturday and is monitoring all offshore oil and gas operations as the Gulf States prepare for Hurricane Ida. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures are trading higher late in the session on Friday.

The team will work with offshore operators in coordination with state and federal agencies until “operations return to normal and the storm is no longer a threat,” announced the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Workers have reportedly been evacuated from half of all offshore oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, with 279 of the 560 platforms now sitting unmanned.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Hochul, Legislature Call Emergency Session on Evictions

When the Supreme Court voided President Biden’s federal eviction moratorium Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul kicked New York’s tenant protection efforts into overdrive.  The governor said in a statement Friday that she plans to hold a special session, effectively pulling the Legislature out of recess, to address evictions. The state’s own moratorium expires Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear if she intends to act on legislation introduced earlier this month by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou to extend the moratorium until Oct. 31, or to tweak the rent relief program’s enabling legislation to speed delivery of the money.

Read more at The Real Deal Real Estate News


Commerce Dept.: Automobiles Restrain U.S. Consumer Spending, Monthly Inflation Slowing

U.S. consumer spending slowed in July as a decline in motor vehicle purchases due to shortages offset a rise in outlays on services, supporting views that economic growth will moderate in the third quarter amid a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

But the foundation for the recovery remains solid, with the report from the Commerce Department on Friday showing wages rising and Americans further boosting savings. Inflation appears to have peaked, which could preserve households’ purchasing power. Businesses are also restocking and exporting more goods, suggesting a slowdown in growth this quarter could be temporary

Read more a Reuters


Q2 GDP Revised Slightly Upward 

The second estimate of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2021 remained below expectations but rose to 6.6%, according to data released Thursday from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). This is a slight increase from the advanced estimate’s 6.5%, and up from the first quarter’s 6.3%.

The modest rise was due to upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investments and exports, but was partially offset by downward revisions to private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction to the GDP calculation, were also revised down.

Read more at Fox Business


Manhattan Office Suites Emptier Than Other Major Metros

Fewer than one in four New York City office workers are back in the office, according to a pair of datasets issued this week.   New York’s office re-occupancy rate is 30 percent lower than the current 10-city average of 31.3 percent. 

At just 21.8 percent of its pre-COVID baseline, New York’s office re-occupancy rate lags that of other major American cities, according to data issued Tuesday by Kastle Systems, which tracks unique entries (fob or card swipes) of the 341,000 individuals authorized to enter the 2,600 buildings nationwide where it controls access. Kastle posts occupancy data each week for an index of 10 cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Jose, Austin, San Francisco and Washington, DC. 

Read more at The Empire Center


Orange County Legislature Begins its Own Investigation of IDA

The Orange County Legislature, Wednesday, began its own investigation into whether contracts signed by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency are void under general municipal law. County Attorney Langdon Chapman, who is serving as interim counsel to the IDA, believes the agency is owed more money than that which was uncovered by the district attorney’s office. “District Attorney (David) Hoovler has already secured over $1.2 million in financial assistance for the IDA as part of the compensation through the wrongful acts.”

The Rules Committee, tasked with the investigation, spent its first session discussing a timetable for its investigation.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


Hudson Valley Unemployment Rage Ticks Up in July

The July 2021 unemployment rate for the Hudson Valley Region is 5.3 percent.  That is up from 5.0 percent in June 2021 and down from 12.5 percent in July 2020.  In July 2021, there were 59,900 unemployed in the region, up from 56,900 in June 2021 and down from 145,900 in July 2020.  Year-over-year in July 2021, labor force decreased by 34,900 or 3.0 percent, to 1,136,400.

Local Area Umeployment Statistics Hudson Valley Region


US Jobless Claims Rise by 4,000 to 353,000

Jobless claims edged up by 4,000 to 353,000 from a pandemic low 349,000 a week earlier, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, fell by 11,500 to 366,500 — lowest since mid-March 2020 when the coronavirus was beginning to slam the United States.

Some employers blame labor shortages on supplemental unemployment benefits from the federal government — including $300 a week on top of regular state aid — for discouraging some of the jobless from seeking work. Some economists point to other factors that have kept out of the job market — difficulty finding or affording child care, fear about becoming infected by the virus at work and the hope of some people to find better jobs than they had before the pandemic. Whatever the causes, the economy remains 5.7 million jobs shy of what it had in February 2020.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


 

 

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Daily Briefing – 365

Reckoning – NY Adds 12,000 Deaths to Publicized COVID Tally

New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul acknowledged on her first day in office that the state has had nearly 12,000 more deaths from COVID-19 than Cuomo told the public. “The public deserves a clear, honest picture of what’s happening. And that’s whether it’s good or bad, they need to know the truth. And that’s how we restore confidence,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said on NPR.

In its first daily update on the outbreak Tuesday evening, Hochul’s office reported that nearly 55,400 people have died of the coronavirus in New York. That’s up from about 43,400 that Cuomo reported to the public. The higher number is not entirely new. Federal health officials and some academic institutions tracking COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been using the higher tally for many months because of known gaps in the data Cuomo had been choosing to publicize.

The Daily Briefing will be using this updated data beginning today. 

Read more at the AP


Hochul Taps State Sen. Brian Benjamin as Lieutenant Governor

New York governor, Kathy Hochul picked a state lawmaker from New York City to succeed her in her old post as lieutenant governor, according to a person familiar with the matter.

State Sen. Brian Benjamin, a Manhattan Democrat, was chosen after Ms. Hochul previously said she was considering several candidates from downstate, according to the person. Ms. Hochul, a Democrat from Buffalo, N.Y., had also said the need for diversity would factor into her decision.


Governor Hochul Announces Changes to Accelerate State Rent Relief Program

Governor Kathy Hochul announced a series of changes to both attract more applications and accelerate payments within New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The state will invest an additional $1 million in marketing and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the rent relief program, the available funding, and the strong tenant eviction protections in place for those who apply. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which administers the program, will analyze application data to target areas of the state with relatively low numbers of applications.

The Governor is also ordering a rapid review of the rent relief program’s workflow, as well as the reassignment of 100 contracted staff to work solely with landlords to complete pending applications, which will accelerate payments. Additionally, new data breaking down rent relief payments by county will be posted on OTDA’s website later this week to increase transparency. The website currently shows where applications are originating and basic demographics.

Read the Governor’s press release


Treasury: Roughly 90 Percent of Federal Rental Aid Still Untapped

The department revealed that just $5.1 billion of the $46 billion in rental and utility assistance allocated by the government has been used to prevent evictions for roughly 984,000 households. Most of the aid is still being held by the state and local groups responsible for distributing it.

State and local organizations provided aid for 341,000 households in July, a gain of 50,000 from the previous month, with about $1.7 billion in allocated aid. But the program has failed to reach millions of tenants facing eviction upon the October expiration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s eviction moratorium.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID Update – Who’s Dying is Changing

U.S. deaths in the week ending Monday totaled 7,225. The face of who is dying is also changing quickly. Deaths are increasingly centered among white non-Hispanic people, a USA TODAY analysis of National Centers for Health Statistics data shows.

Most other racial and ethnic groups now have a smaller share of deaths, but white non-Hispanics, which represent about 61.1% of all deaths during the pandemic, made up 68.8% of the deaths reported so far in July and August.

Read more at USA Today


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday August 25th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.4 of all New Yorkers – 12,816,392 (plus 33,653 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,358,837 (plus 3,835) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.3% of all New Yorkers – 11,537,738 are fully vaccinated (Plus 24,011)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,209,032 (plus 2,527) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday August 24th.  There were 16 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,423.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,143.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.13%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.51%

Useful Websites:


J&J Says Covid-19 Booster Prompts Strong Immune Response

J&J said researchers found antibody levels increased ninefold among people who received a second dose of its vaccine, compared with one month after they received a first dose. The company didn’t specify exactly when or how many subjects received the second dose, though information posted about the clinical trial in an online government database indicates it was administered six months after the first shot.

J&J also said a booster is needed after eight months based on interim data it reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in July, which showed strong antibody responses through eight months after immunization with the J&J one-dose shot.

Read more at the WSJ


Delta Air Lines to Charge $200 Monthly to Workers Who Refuse Vaccines

Delta Air Lines plans to charge workers who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination an extra $200 per month for their health care insurance.  It comes as employers are trying to increase the rate of COVID vaccination among their workers. Some, like the state of California, Tyson Foods, CNN and United Airlines, are mandating vaccination. The $200-per-month surcharge will be applied beginning Nov. 1 to unvaccinated workers on Delta’s insurance plan.

Others are expected to impose insurance surcharges on unvaccinated workers, seeking to cover the increased costs of health care stemming from hospital bills those workers incur when they become infected. U

Read more at USA Today


How Manufacturers Have Been Innovating on Ways to Attract New Employees

Even if understaffed manufacturers have been able to hit most or all customer deadlines this year, continuing to operate with staffing shortages for too long can cause short- and long-term damage to workforces and therefore businesses. Requiring employees to work excessive overtime hours not only leads to employee burnout, but it also increases unplanned absences, work injuries, overuse of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), additional compensation for overtime premiums, disengagement (with resulting lost productivity), and attrition. Unusually heavy workloads for an understaffed factory workforce can also attract union organizers.

In an effort to understand workforce challenges manufacturers face and how they are coping Ogletree Deakins’ Manufacturing Industry Group recently administered a benchmarking survey to which 40 manufacturers responded. Here is a summary of the highlights, along with some key takeaways for manufacturers: 

Read more at National Law Review


Volvo to Idle Gothenburg Plant Over Chip Shortage… Again

Volvo Cars will halt production at its Swedish plant in Torslanda, on the outskirts of Gothenburg, during next week due to the shortage of semiconductor chips, the automaker said. Volvo, which last month reported the best half-year sales and operating profit in the company’s 94-year history as demand for electrified cars grew, also warned in July that the ongoing shortage of microchips would negatively impact its results in the second half.

“Due to the current material shortage situation, triggered by a combination of global semiconductor shortages and new COVID-19 outbreaks, Volvo Cars has decided to pause production in Torslanda for the week of Aug 30-Sep 3,” Volvo said in an emailed statement.

Read more at Automotive News


VW Cuts Output at Wolfsburg Plant as Chip Shortage Bites

VW’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, its biggest factory globally, will work with just one shift from Monday, Aug. 23 through Friday. Audi, the group’s biggest profit contributor, will extend the summer break by one week at its two factories in Germany as semiconductor supply remains “volatile and tense.”

VW has halted production at the factory at other times this year because of semiconductor supply constraints. VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said during VW’s annual press conference in March that the automaker was unable to build 100,000 cars due to the chip shortage and it would not be able to make up for the shortfall this year.

Read more at Automotive News


COVID Shutdowns at Chinese Ports Squeeze Container Rates

shippers are likely to encounter reduced container availability and rising prices at key maritime hubs in the coming weeks, thanks to a continuing spate of Covid-19 outbreaks at ports in China and Vietnam.  The disruptions spring from a weeklong lockdown of the port of Yantian in May, and were since perpetuated by a separate closure of Ningbo port in August, Hamburg, Germany-based Container xChange said.

By the numbers, average container prices (defined as the average price of the transactions on the Container xChange platform covering all container sizes including 20 ft. and 40 ft. dry containers) at the port of Yantian jumped nearly three-fold from $5,515 in June to $15,336 this month. By comparison, container prices rose by much smaller increments at the ports of Shanghai and Qingdao over the same period, swelling at Shanghai from $4,468 to $5,570, and rising at Qingdao from $4,793 to $5,203.

Read more at Supply Chain Quarterly


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 364

Hochul Sworn In: ‘I Want People to Believe in Their Government Again’

Kathy Hochul became the 57th governor of New York on Tuesday and in her first hours on the job sought to bring a new sense of urgency to tackling issues that went unaddressed during Andrew Cuomo’s distracted final months in office. In an afternoon address, she:

  • Said she was immediately making masks mandatory for anyone entering schools and would work to implement a requirement that all school staff either be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
  • She said the state would launch a back-to-school testing program to make testing for students and staff more convenient.
  • She also pledged quick action to unstick an application bottleneck that has kept federal aid money from flowing to renters who suffered financially because of the pandemic.
  • She promised to get the state ready to distribute vaccine booster shots, when they become widely available, including reopening mass inoculation sites that had previously closed.
  • And she also said New Yorkers “can expect new vaccine requirements,” though she didn’t specify what those might be.

Hochul promised more transparency and ethical conduct in government going forward.


SUNY Mandates Vaccinations for All Students Within 35 Days

Monday’s FDA announcement that the Pfizer vaccine would be fully approved triggered a vaccine mandate for students within the SUNY system. The blanket policy has been in place for months in anticipation of the announcement. The mandate includes a 35-day period for students to compete their vaccine series.

If students don’t complete the vaccine series within the 35 day period, they will be de-registered from their courses.

Read more at WBNG


Malaysian COVID Surge May Worsen the Car Chip Shortage

The number of COVID-19 infections is surging in Malaysia, threatening to aggravate shortages of semiconductors and other components that have hammered automakers for months. Ford Motor Co. said last week it would temporarily suspend production of its popular F-150 pickup truck at one U.S. plant because of “a semiconductor-related part shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia.”

The Southeast Asian country hasn’t historically had the kind of importance to technology supply chains that Taiwan, South Korea or Japan do. But in recent years, Malaysia emerged as a major center for chip testing and packaging, with Infineon Technologies AG, NXP Semiconductors NV and STMicroelectronics NV among the key suppliers operating plants there.

Read more at Fortune


House Democrats Break Internal Impasse to Adopt $3.5T Budget Plan

House Democrats on Tuesday rallied behind a new strategy to advance President Biden’s economic agenda shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) struck a deal with a small group of moderates that was threatening to blow up leadership’s carefully laid plans to pass trillions of dollars in federal spending.

The House voted 220-212, strictly along party lines, to adopt a rule that allows Democrats to immediately begin work on a massive $3.5 trillion social benefits package. The rule also requires the lower chamber to take up the Senate-passed bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID Update – 140,000 New Cases Per Day

The US CDC reported 37.8 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 626,833 deaths. Daily incidence continues to increase, surpassing 140,000 new cases per day, the highest average since January 30. After reaching a low of 11,653 new cases per day on June 18, the current surge is more than 50% of the way back to the United States’ highest peak—254,111 on January 10.

Daily incidence, however, continues to taper off and if the trend continues on this trajectory, we expect the surge to peak in the next several weeks. Daily mortality continues to increase as well, up to 745 deaths per day, the highest average since March 22. The current average is now higher than it was during the lull between the summer 2020 and winter 2020 surges.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday August 24th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.3 of all New Yorkers – 12,782,739 (plus 20,657 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,355,002 (plus 3,531) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.12% of all New Yorkers – 11,513,727 are fully vaccinated (Plus 16,499)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,206,505 (plus 2,510) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday August 23rd.  There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,415.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,103.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.13%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.41%

Useful Websites:


Two New CDC Studies Point to Waning Immunity from Vaccines

One study, which focused on frontline health care workers, found that vaccine effectiveness declined by nearly thirty percentage points since the Delta variant became the dominant strain in the U.S. The analysis also concluded that the Covid-19 vaccines were 80 percent effective in preventing infection among the frontline health care workers.

The CDC cautioned in its report that the vaccine effectiveness “might also be declining as time since vaccination increases and because of poor precision in estimates due to limited number of weeks of observation.”

Read more at Politico


CDC Study: Disparities in Excess Mortality Associated with COVID-19

This study assessed excess mortality incidence rates (e.g., the number of excess deaths per 100,000 person-years) in the United States during December 29, 2019–January 2, 2021, by race/ethnicity and age group using data from the National Vital Statistics System. In 2020 excess mortality incidence rates were higher for persons aged over 65 years, with notable racial/ethnic disparities across all age groups. Among Black and Hispanic persons over age 65  there were more than 1,000 excess deaths per 100,000 person-years occurred compared with the number of deaths expected to occur. 

These findings could help guide targeted public health messaging and mitigation efforts to reduce disparities in COVID-19–associated mortality in the United States, by identifying the racial/ethnic and age groups with the highest excess mortality rates.

Read more at the CDC


CDC Stands Up New Disease Forecasting Center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is announcing a new center designed to advance the use of forecasting and outbreak analytics in public health decision making. Once established, the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics will bring together next-generation public health data, expert disease modelers, public health emergency responders, and high-quality communications, to meet the needs of decision makers.

The new center will accelerate access to and use of data for public health decision-makers who need information to mitigate the effects of disease threats, such as social and economic disruption. The center will prioritize equity and accessibility, while serving as a hub for innovation and research on disease modeling.

Read more at the CDC


Samsung Announces $205 Billion Investment, Will Build New Plants

Samsung Group unveiled a $205 billion investment blueprint on August 24 aimed at making the company a leader in a range of technologies from semiconductors to robotics and creating 40,000 new jobs. The plan will “help Samsung strengthen its global standing in key industries while spearheading innovation in new fields,” the company said in a statement, adding that it will also pursue corporate acquisitions.

On the semiconductor front, the firm said it will seek to enhance cutting-edge technologies to meet “long-term demand rather than short-term changes. It is also looking to expand its biopharmaceutical business run by Samsung Biologics and Samsung Bioepisit.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Amazon Sets Ambitious Safety Plans

Amazon, known for its Prime two-day delivery, is now focused on delivering health and wellness interventions to its employees. Amazon now boasts a global workforce of 1.3 million, and a U.S. workforce of about 950,000. Those figures don’t account for the hundreds of thousands of seasonal or temporary workers or third-party contractors. 

Amazon will invest more than $300 million into safety projects, including an initial $66 million to create technology that will help prevent collisions of forklifts and other types of industrial vehicles.

Read more at EHS Today


COVID -19 and Pregnancy

A new study suggest pregnant women with COVID-19 are 15 times more likely to die, and 22 times more likely to have a premature delivery, than those who are not infected. This is particularly worrisome because so many pregnant women have been avoiding vaccination due to concerns about insufficient safety data (health officials and experts say there’s plenty of data now, and pregnant women should definitely get vaccinated.)

Read more at JAMA


FAA to Review Boeing Employee Reports of Pressure Over Safety Issues

The Federal Aviation Administration is launching a broad review of how Boeing Co.  employees handle safety matters on the agency’s behalf after some company engineers said they face undue pressure, according to an agency letter and people familiar with the matter.

U.S. aviation regulators have long relied on aerospace-company employees to act on their behalf for performing certain tasks, such as signing off on certain safety assessments or approving aircraft for delivery. The problems cited by Boeing employees in the survey “indicate the environment does not support independence” of those who are empowered to act on the agency’s behalf, according to the letter, which was signed by Ian Won, acting manager of the FAA’s Boeing oversight office in the Seattle area.

Read more at the WSJ


Rising Machine-Tool Orders

The German machine-tool industry reported a 103% year-over-year increase in second-quarter orders, and a 57% increase in first-half 2021 orders. Like the first-half orders recently posted for the U.S. manufacturing sector, the German Machine Tool Builders’ Assn. (VDW) report strengthens the forecast for a sustained recovery in industrial demand.

German machine-tool builders comprise one of the largest national groups in the global manufacturing technology sector, and one of the top-five specialty groups in that country’s mechanical engineering sector. In 2020, VDW member companies produced machines and services worth around €11.8 billion ($14.4 billion.)

Read more at American Machinist


 

 

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Daily Briefing – 363

FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval in a highly anticipated move that’s expected to boost vaccinations and spark more mandates nationwide.  The federal agency reached the milestone of issuing the first complete authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine after an approximately three-month review of Pfizer’s and its German partner BioNTech’s application to the FDA for full approval.  Experts and Biden administration officials are hopeful the agency’s full approval will serve as a catalyst for vaccinations in the country.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, like the other two available in the U.S., had been given emergency use authorization allowing it to be administered only during the public health emergency. But under the full authorization, the FDA is giving permission for patients to get the shots once the public health emergency is declared over. 

Read more at The Hill


Hubris – Cuomo’s Drive to Dominate Led to Success, and His Downfall

Back in 2018, when there was talk he might run for president, Andrew Cuomo insisted there was only one reason he would leave office early. And it wasn’t the White House. “The only caveat,” he said, “is if God strikes me dead.”  Another possibility was realized yesterday, when the Democrat resigned in disgrace, his allies gone, his legacy stained by allegations of sexual harassment. 

For those who watched Cuomo’s daily COVID-19 briefings and saw a beacon of strength and competence, Cuomo’s departure from the governor’s mansion may seem a stunning reversal. For New Yorkers, and especially those who butted heads with Cuomo, it is a story about how his drive to dominate made him the master of New York politics and brought about his downfall.


Moderate House Democrats: Let’s ‘take the Win,’ Pass Infrastructure

A group of moderate House Democrats is calling on Congress in a new op-ed to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill without coupling it to what they call the “largely undefined” reconciliation package.

“The challenge we face right now is that there is a standoff with some of our colleagues who have decided to hold the infrastructure bill hostage for months, or kill it altogether, if they don’t get what they want in the next bill — a largely undefined $3.5 trillion reconciliation package,” the so-called “Moderate Nine” wrote in The Washington Post. “While we have concerns about the level of spending and potential revenue raisers, we are open to immediate consideration of that package. But we are firmly opposed to holding the president’s infrastructure legislation hostage to reconciliation, risking its passage and the bipartisan support behind it,” the group said.

Read more at The Hill


Hudson Valley Schools Eager for Hochul to act on Masks, Vaccines, Quarantine and More

Incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to soon mandate masks for school classrooms this fall — tackling one of the most contentious issues in the country — but school districts still face major health decisions before the new school year begins.

Many districts have posted preliminary reopening plans, with all in the Hudson Valley requiring masks to this point. Others hope the state may still step in and resolve thorny issues such as quarantine rules, social distancing rules, COVID testing, and the possible requiring of vaccinations for staff.

Read more at Lohud.com


US COVID Update -Five U.S. States Set New Records as Hospitalizations Rise

Five states broke records for the average number of daily new COVID cases over the weekend as the delta variant strains hospital systems across the U.S. and forces many states to reinstate public health restrictions.  Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon and Mississippi all reached new peaks in their seven-day average of new cases per day as of Sunday. States with higher vaccination rates are seeing fewer COVID patients take up hospital beds.

Nationwide, less than 11% of all hospital beds are being used by Covid patients. In Oregon, it’s 11.4%, Hawaii is at 12.1%, followed by Louisiana at 20.4%, Mississippi at 18.7% and Florida at 28.2%.

Read more at CNBC


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Monday August 23rd:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.2 of all New Yorkers – 12,762,082 (plus 17,608 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,351,471 (plus 1,4281) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.1% of all New Yorkers – 11,497,228 are fully vaccinated (Plus 13,125)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,203,995 (plus 1,004) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday August 22nd.  There were 28 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,404.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,017.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.16%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.49%

Useful Websites:


Vaccine Mandates Move Ahead After F.D.A. Approval of Pfizer-BioNTech

Full federal approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for those 16 and older is opening the way for institutions like the military, corporate employers, hospitals and school districts to announce vaccine mandates for their employees.

One of the first and largest to move ahead was the Pentagon, which announced on Monday that it was moving ahead with plans to require all active-duty troops to be vaccinated. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III will soon send specific vaccination guidelines to the country’s 1.4 million active-duty service members, the Pentagon said.

Read more at the New York Times


PMI: Euro Zone Business Boom Roared on in August

Euro zone business activity remained strong this month, only dipping from July’s two-decade high pace, as a rapid vaccination drive against the coronavirus allowed more businesses to reopen and customers to venture out, a survey showed on Monday.

Without ongoing supply chain disruptions activity could have expanded faster but fears new coronavirus strains may lead to renewed restrictions continued to put a dent in optimism. IHS Markit’s Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, seen as a good guide to economic health, fell to 59.5 in August from 60.2 last month. It was ahead of the 50-mark separating growth from contraction but just shy of a Reuters poll estimate for 59.7.

Read more at Reuters


Copper and Iron Ore Prices are Collapsing on Growth Worries 

Copper and iron ore prices have been slammed this month by demand worries as the coronavirus crisis wears on, while iron ore faces industry-specific pressure as China demands curbs on steel production, prompting questions about whether prices for the industrial metals can return to highs for the year.

Benchmark iron ore prices with 62% iron content in August have tumbled roughly 26% to trade above $156 per metric ton, driving to levels not seen since February. Copper has dropped more than 8% to fetch about $4.111 per pound, the lowest in about four months.  The downward slope comes after prices for the metals had been climbing since March 2020 when they dropped alongside a crash in US stocks as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to push economies worldwide into recession.

Read more at Markets Insider


Mexican GM Workers Leave Union After USMCA-Spurred Vote

Workers at General Motors’ vehicle assembly plant in Silao, Mexico have voted to terminate their contract with a chapter of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM). According to the Associated Press, GM employees at the plant, which assembles Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks and GMC Sierra SUVs, will continue to work with benefits provided by their old contract for the time being.

In a vote Monday, 3,214 workers voted to terminate their CTM contract while 2,623 voted to maintain it.  The vote was prompted by the first labor dispute settled using the USMCA’s rapid response mechanism, said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, which the United States invoked in May after Mexican authorities stopped a vote in April to keep the union after reporting irregularities like destroyed ballots and alleged intimidation tactics.

Read more at IndustryWeek


GM Expands Chevrolet Bolt EV Recall, Adding $1 Billion In Costs

General Motors expanded a recall of its Chevrolet Bolt on Friday, announcing plans to repair thousands more of the electric autos in a move that will add $1 billion in costs. The recall will address two manufacturing defects that can be present in electric battery cells, leading to fires in “rare circumstances,” GM said in a news release.

The latest moves adds to the $812 million in costs connected to the earlier recall of Bolt vehicles.  GM said it was pursuing reimbursement from the supplier, LG. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


Senate and Assembly Republicans Hold Listening Session with Stakeholders on Proposed 55 Cent per Gallon Gas Tax

Members of the Senate and Assembly Republican Conferences today held a listening session with stakeholders across various industries to discuss the potential impacts of the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA), a proposal being advanced by Albany Democrats that could increase the cost of gas by as much as 55 cents per gallon and increase home heating costs by more than 25 percent. Another listening session was held earlier this month in Albany.

The legislation would impose a carbon tax of $55 per ton of fossil fuel emissions in order to reach renewable energy mandates under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCP), passed by the Legislature in 2019.

Read more at NYS Assembly Minority Conference


Meet the Workers Gaming Remote Work with Multiple Jobs

A small, dedicated group of white-collar workers, in industries from tech to banking to insurance, say they have found a way to double their pay: Work two full-time remote jobs.  Of course they don’t tell anyone and, for the most part, don’t do too much work, either.

Alone in their home offices, they toggle between two laptops. They play “Tetris” with their calendars, trying to dodge endless meetings. Sometimes they log on to two meetings at once. They use paid time off—in some cases, unlimited—to juggle the occasional big project or ramp up at a new gig. Many say they don’t work more than 40 hours a week for both jobs combined. They don’t apologize for taking advantage of a system they feel has taken advantage of them.

Read more at the WSJ


The US Is Lagging in R&D Investment, But We Can Turn It Around

Our economy depends on the U.S. manufacturing sector being best-in-class globally. Yet it is no secret that U.S. manufacturing has been lagging China for the last decade—and the gap is growing, which creates an urgency to act. 

For example, in the research and development space, the Chinese government’s R&D investment grew by 13% in 2019—and, through its “Made in China 2025” initiative, China plans to increase its investment by 7% each year through 2025. Here at home, our investment grew by just 8% in 2019, despite competing in the same global race. We are not investing to win, and that is hugely problematic for our nation.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Jackson Hole Meeting Goes Virtual Amid Delta Variant Worries

Health officials in Teton County, Wyoming, announced last Thursday what was in part an administrative change, swapping a local five-point index for assessing COVID-19 risk for a four-point scale used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that change promptly pushed the county into the CDC’s highest risk category, and shifted the Federal Reserve’s plans to hold its Jackson Hole central banking conference as an in-person event into non-compliance with local health guidance. Within a day, the U.S. central bank had cancelled the in-person portion of the conference at the local mountain resort.

The annual symposium, organized by the Kansas City Fed, will still take place online and the substance will be the same. Academic research papers will be presented and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a speech via webcast on Friday.

Read more at Reuters

 

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Daily Briefing – 362

Kathy Hochul to Become Governor at Midnight Aug. 24

When Monday night immediately slips to Tuesday, Kathy Hochul will become New York’s 57th governor. Excelsior. 

While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, for a fourth straight day, would not publicly say Monday when Cuomo will depart his job, Hochul’s officials said they have now officially been told of the embattled Cuomo’s exit: Monday at 11:59 p.m.

Read more at the Buffalo News


Yellen Writes Letter To Congress Officially Ending Enhanced Unemployment

The end to the program is now officially here, as Yellen penned: “We write on behalf of President Biden with an update on the steps our Departments are taking in advance of the expiration of emergency unemployment insurance (UI) programs on September 6, 2021.” Yellen noted the progress the economy has made in bouncing back, but also cited Delta variant concerns as restricting full rebound in some states where the virus is still not well under control.

Since last year, state unemployment benefits have been supplemented by an extra $300 per week, totaling an extra $1,200 a month, by federal money through the stimulus relief bill. The extra federal boost was an area of contention for the last few months. Over half of the country’s governors decided to end receipt of the benefit for their states months ago. They claimed that small business owners were having difficulty filling open vacancies in their stores and blamed the continued federal supplement as the reason. New York was not among them. 

Read more at Yahoo Finance


McMahon: NYS Still Lags the Nation In Job Growth

New York managed to tie the nation’s private-sector job growth rate in July—but compared to the U.S. as a whole, the Empire State remains much further below its pre-recession employment level, according to preliminary estimates in today’s monthly jobs report from the state Labor Department.

Measured on a seasonally adjusted basis, there were about 7.5 million workers on private payrolls in New York last month, an increase of 0.6 percent from June. The national private jobs count was up 0.6 percent, to roughly 124.8 million. By historical standards, 0.6 percent in a single month is a very high rate of growth—in New York’s case, higher than recorded in any pre-pandemic month since May 2015.  But even if that pace continues, private payrolls in New York State won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until January 2023. By contrast, the U.S. as a whole has been adding private jobs at a pace that will produce a full private-sector employment recovery by early next year.

Read more at the Empire Center


Hudson Valley Jobs Continue Rebound, Manufacturing Adds 1300 Year on Year

Private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley increased by 54,800 or 7.8 percent, to 761,300 in the 12 months ending July 2021.  Gains were largest in leisure and hospitality (+25,500), trade, transportation and utilities (+11,100), educational and health services (+9,500) and professional and business services (+7,200), other services (+2,300), 

While the region’s private sector employment has regained a large portion of the jobs lost, it remains 66,700, or 8.1 percent below the pre-pandemic levels of July 2019.  Manufacturing gained 1,300 jobs in the 12 month period.

Labor Market Profile (Hudson Valley) JUL 2021


US COVID Update – More Children Are Hospitalized With Covid-19

Hospitals in the South and Midwest say they are treating more children with Covid-19 than ever and are preparing for worse surges to come. Cases there have jumped over the past six weeks as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads primarily among unvaccinated people. That is leading to more sick kids in places where community spread of the variant is high, public-health experts say.

About half of the kids hospitalized recently didn’t have underlying conditions, he said, whereas before Delta most kids who were hospitalized for Covid-19 had other health issues such as asthma or diabetes. He said he suspects the Delta variant likely does cause more severe disease in children than other variants.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Sunday August 22th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 66.1 of all New Yorkers – 12,744,474 (plus 28,142 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,350,042 (plus 2,541) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 59.0% of all New Yorkers – 11,484,103 are fully vaccinated (Plus 19,016)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,102,991 (plus 1,554) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday August 21th.  There were 21COVID related deaths for a total of 43,376.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,953

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.14%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.36%

Useful Websites:


The Economist: The World Needs a Proper Investigation Into How COVID-19 Started

China clearly does not want lab-leaks investigated; but that does not mean it knows one happened. It is also being misleading about Huanan market, denying access to early-case data and obfuscating in various other non-lab-leak-specific ways. The most obvious explanation is that it does not really want any definitive answer to the question. An unsanitary market, a reckless bat-catcher or a hapless spelunker would not be as bad in terms of blame as a source in a government laboratory.

But any definite answer to the origin question probably leaves China looking bad, unless it can find a way to blame someone else. To that end China has called for an investigation of Fort Detrick in Maryland, historically the home of American bioweapons research; state media regularly publish speculations about its involvement.

Read more at The Economist


Considering Mandating Vaccines for Employees? What Small Businesses Need to Know

With over half of the American population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — and potential surges with the Delta variant strain — many employers are strongly encouraging or mandating in-person employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine (if they haven’t already). Contrary to popular belief, it is not a violation of HIPAA or other legislation for employers to require employees to get the vaccine or ask for proof of vaccination. As such, some companies elect to adopt a “vaccinate or terminate” approach.

As a small business owner, there are several options to consider when mandating employee vaccinations.

Read more at The US Chamber


UPDATE: EEO-1 Reporting Deadline Extended Until October 25, 2021

The EEOC has announced on its EEO-1 Data Collection website that it has, again, extended the deadline for filing EEO-1 Reports this year—this time to October 25.  Employers still rushing to finalize and upload their 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 reports by the prior August 23 deadline will certainly welcome this extra breathing room.

But EEOC’s announcement makes clear that there will be no more extensions: “Please note that this new deadline is the FINAL DEADLINE and all eligible filers MUST submit data by this date.  No additional changes to the filing deadline will be made.” So it is wise for employers to continue to finalize these reports with urgency. 

Read more at Jackson Lewis


Stewart Awarded $3.8 Million in Pandemic Funding

New York Stewart International Airport has been awarded over $3.8 million by the FAA through the American Rescue Plan. The money will be used to cover costs incurred due to the pandemic including for sanitization and personal protective equipment.

“Ensuring Stewart has the funding it needs to reboot and expand its operations in the wake of the pandemic is a top priority for me in Washington,” said Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-18).  Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said air travel “is vital to the connectivity and success of the Hudson Valley’s economy, which is why, as we continue to build back better from COVID-19, it is critical that we provide the funding necessary to keep Stewart Airport in Orange County safe and efficient.”

Read more at Mid Hudson News


Toyota Slashes Production Amid Supply Chain Challenges

Japan’s top automaker said Thursday that it will cut back production at home by 40 percent, affecting 14 auto assembly plants in the country. In North America, Toyota said it expects August production to be slashed by 60,000 to 90,000 vehicles. A representative from Toyota said that output fluctuates month to month, but that it would equate to a production cut of between 40 and 60 percent.

A shortage of the computer chips used widely in vehicles has been problematic for months as the world appeared to emerge from the pandemic and demand surged. The company said production cuts in North America are not expected to have an impact on staffing levels.

Read more at PBS


Majority of Employees are Job Searching, Poll Finds

The share of workers thinking of calling it quits could be higher than expected. Some 65% of employees are looking for a new job right now, according to an August poll of 1,007 full- and part-time U.S. workers conducted by PwC. That’s nearly double the 35% of workers who said they were seeking new work in May.

Workers say their top reason for finding a new job is negotiating for a better salary, followed by expanded benefits and more workplace flexibility, such as the ability to work remotely full-time or on a hybrid schedule.

Read more at CNBC


Jobless Claims Reach Post Pandemic Low of 348,000

Initial unemployment claims fell further last week to the lowest level since March 2020, bringing the level of weekly new filings closer to pre-virus levels. 

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended August 14: 348,000 vs. 364,000 expected and a revised 377,000 during the prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended August 7: 2.820 million vs. 2.800 million expected and a revised 2.899 million during the prior week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, which smooths out some volatility in the data, also took a step lower. This came in at 377,750 for a drop of 19,000 from the prior week’s level. 

Read more At Yahoo Finance


Pelosi says House working to pass infrastructure bills by Oct. 1

In a “Dear Colleague” letter distributed Saturday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Saturday that the lower chamber is “hard at work” to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger, Democrat-backed spending package by Oct. 1. and that the “Build Back Better” plan laid out by President Biden enjoys “a broad and bipartisan level of public support throughout the country.”

Pelosi stated that the $3.5 trillion price tag for the larger infrastructure package, a legislative priority for the Biden administration, will remain the topline number for the bill. The bill would include child care, home health care, and paid family and medical leave. “This is the number that has been agreed to in the Senate and is now before us in the House.  Accordingly, we will write a reconciliation bill with the Senate that is consistent with that topline,” she added.

Read more at The Hill


 

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Daily Briefing – 361

Biden to Require Vaccines for Staff at Federally Funded Nursing Homes

President Biden on Wednesday announced a plan to require Covid-19 vaccinations for staff in federally funded nursing homes — and withhold money for facilities that don’t comply with the policy. The administration floated a vaccine order earlier this month, earning swift criticism industry groups.

It’s the first time the White House has used the threat of holding back federal funding to boost vaccination rates and will impact roughly 15,000 nursing homes employing 1.3 million people. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will issue an emergency regulation in September.

Read more at Politico


Powell: Delta’s Impact on Economy ‘Not Yet Clear’

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday he’s unsure if the delta variant of the coronavirus will take a serious toll on the broader U.S. economy, citing the resilience of consumers and businesses throughout the pandemic. “COVID is still with us … and that is likely to continue to be the case for a while,” the outbreak may not weigh heavily on the economy because “people and businesses have improvised and learned to adapt, to live their lives despite COVID.” He said.

Powell’s remarks come amid growing concern and uncertainty about the impact of surging COVID-19 cases on the country’s economic recovery. While states and cities have forgone lockdowns and business restrictions employed during the first wave of the pandemic, declining consumer confidence and school closures could weigh on further job gains and business activity.

Read more at The Hill


As Virus Cases Surge States Encourage More Use of Antibody Treatments

Facing overcrowded hospitals and an unrelenting surge of Delta variant cases around the country, the Biden administration on Thursday renewed its call for health providers to use monoclonal antibody treatments, which can help Covid-19 patients who are at risk of getting very sick. 

The treatments mimic antibodies that the immune system generates naturally to fight the coronavirus. They have been shown to sharply reduce hospitalizations and deaths when given to patients soon after symptoms appear, typically by intravenous infusion. There is also evidence that they may be able to prevent the disease entirely in certain people exposed to the virus. The antibody treatments can be given to patients who are already sick, with a more immediate effect.

Read more at the New York Times


TSA Extends Mask Mandate for Transportation Through Jan. 18

The Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday extended a federal requirement that travelers wear masks on commercial flights, buses and trains through Jan. 18. “The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” the agency said in a statement.

The measure is the latest sign of persistent concerns within the federal government about the spread of Covid-19. Airlines including Southwest and Spirit have warned about a drop in bookings and higher cancellations, trends they blamed on the fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus.

Read more at CNBC 


US COVID Update – Cases May be Reaching an Inflection Point

The US CDC reported 36.7 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 619,564 deaths. The daily average is up to 121,873 new cases per day, the highest since February 4. Daily incidence continues to increase rapidly, but it appears as though the US may be passing an inflection point, meaning cases may soon decline.

Daily mortality continues to increase as well, although it is difficult to determine whether the current trend is a linear or exponential increase. The current average of 548 deaths per day is the highest since May 13

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security 


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Wednesday August 18th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 65.5% of all New Yorkers – 12,609,588 (plus 32,651 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,336,655 (plus 4,271) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 58.5% of all New Yorkers – 11,398,549 are fully vaccinated (Plus 21,955)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,194,636 (plus 2,805) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday August 17th.  There were 20 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,299.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,888

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.16%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.25%

Useful Websites:


Breakthrough Cases Remain Uncommon – Vaccines Keep Serious Illness at Bay

U.S. states counted at least 193,204 so-called breakthrough cases among vaccinated people between Jan. 1 and early August. The figure represents 0.1% of the more than 136 million fully vaccinated people in those states and the capital. Health departments said that breakthrough cases represented a tiny fraction of Covid-19 infections and resulted in very few hospitalizations or deaths.

The total number of breakthrough cases is likely higher, public-health experts said, because fully vaccinated people with asymptomatic infections likely aren’t getting tested for Covid-19. Additionally, several states said the data were unavailable, while others track only breakthrough cases that result in hospitalizations or death.

Read more at the WSJ


WHO Announces Next Phase in COVID-19 Origin Investigation

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the next steps in its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus last week, telling countries they should cooperate and depoliticize the situation.

The origins of COVID-19 have become a hot topic after many dismissed a theory last year that the virus could have been made in a laboratory in China, denouncing it as a conspiracy. Attitudes changed after WHO found there was “insufficient scientific evidence to rule any of the hypotheses out,” including the suggestion the virus could have been made in a lab.

Read more at The Hill


Budget Bill Standoff – Pelosi Presses Moderates

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday pressed members of her party to move forward on a $3.5 trillion budget bill.  Nine moderate Democrats have banded together to go against Democratic leadership, threatening to block the budget resolution if the bipartisan infrastructure deal is not passed first.

Pelosi wrote in her letter on Tuesday that “any delay in passing the budget resolution could threaten our ability to pass this essential legislation through reconciliation.” The Democrats need to move forward “united” to pass a motion to move the budget resolution forward on Aug. 23 so they can “deliver historic progress.”

Read more at The Hill


Fed: Auto Production Jumped 11.2% in July

U.S. industrial production improved on its growth in June, and manufacturing output leapt 1.4 percentage points thanks to a notable increase in motor vehicles and parts production. Motor vehicle and parts production rose by 11.2 percentage points as automakers canceled their usual July factory shutdown, despite an ongoing semiconductor shortage. 

U.S. motor vehicle assemblers put together 9.70 million vehicles and 7.79 million trucks last month compared to 8.83 million vehicles and 7.38 million trucks in June. The improvement in auto output helped drive increases in consumer durable goods, business equipment, and durable materials, the Federal Reserve said, and durable goods production increased by 2.4 points in July. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


Stanley Black & Decker to Purchase Cub Cadet Maker for $1.6 Billion

Stanley Black & Decker announced that it has agreed to acquire the remaining 80 percent ownership stake in MTD Holdings Inc., a privately held global manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, including Cub Cadet® and Troy-Bilt®, for $1.6 billion in cash. Stanley Black & Decker acquired a 20 percent stake in MTD in 2019.

With over $2.5 billion of revenue in the last twelve months, MTD designs, manufactures and distributes lawn tractors, zero turn mowers, walk behind mowers, snow blowers, residential robotic mowers, handheld outdoor power equipment and garden tools for both residential and professional consumers under well-known brands like Cub Cadet® and Troy-Bilt®. MTD has state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe, and a global distribution network.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Scabby Returns… And More from the Biden NLRB

The new Biden-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is already showing signs of the sea change in labor relations law that will be taking place over the next few years as it serves as another cog in the administration’s pro-union machine.

Jennifer Abruzzo was nominated by Biden, confirmed by the Senate and sworn in to serve as the board’s new general counsel in July. But even before Abruzzo was sworn in, change was already evident, at least when it comes to rodential displays. The giant inflatable rat named Scabby, was granted a reprieve. You can expect to see Scabby joining picket lines and union demonstrations in the future throughout the country because there is actually a full mischief of these inflatable rats (which is what a group of these rodents are termed) that are rented out by a supplier in the Midwest. 

Read more at Material Handling and Logistics


Poll: Hochul Leading Democrats in primary for New York Governor

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is slated to become the state’s chief executive next week after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s  resignation goes into effect, is leading among potential 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidates in a new poll. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they would support Hochul, followed by 24 percent who said they would vote for James and 5 percent who threw their support behind de Blasio.

The survey, conducted by co/efficient, asked likely Democratic primary voters whether they would support in the gubernatorial primary if it were held today.

Read more at The Hill


US Port Congestion Worsens on Both Coasts

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California are approaching or surpassing first-quarter records for congestion as large numbers of ships wait in San Pedro Bay for dock space, and shipping consultant Jon Monroe warns the problem may worsen thanks to new liner services and other types of ships. Congestion is also building on the East Coast at terminals in Savannah, Ga.; Newark, N.J.; and New York.

Read more at FreightWaves 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 360

Survey: Council Members not Mandating Vaccines…Yet

The Council of Industry surveyed its members to determine whether or not firms were mandating, or considering mandating COVID-19 Vaccines for their employees.  They survey was conducted August 8 – 13th and received 23 responses. Below is a summary of the findings.

  • 2 firms, or less than 8 percent, are mandating vaccines for their employees, 21 are not.  Of those who are not mandating vaccines most cited respect for individual rights as the reason (8) followed by concern over losing employees (7).
  • 9 of the 21 firms that are not yet mandating vaccine for their employees are considering doing so – with more than half (5) citing keeping people safe as the primary reason.
  • 20 of 23 firms (87%) are encouraging employees to become vaccinated with one on one conversations (8) and group conversations (6) most cited.  One firm is providing a cash incentive to be vaccinated.

Empire Manufacturing Survey Supplemental Questions on Job Openings

Supplementary questions in the August 2021  Empire State Manufacturing Survey focused on the degree of difficulty businesses have been having filling job openings. The first set of questions focused on how much difficulty businesses have had hiring to fill open positions since May.  Of those that did have openings, the vast majority—nearly nine in ten manufacturers—said they have had difficulty. 

Businesses that reported difficulties in filling positions were also given a list of possible reasons for such difficulties and asked which one(s) applied. The most widely cited reason, by far, was a lack of qualified applicants. A sizable share of respondents also cited applicants declining job offers—both due to compensation and other issues—as a source of difficulty. 

Read more at the NY Fed


Auto Sales Weigh as Retail Sales Fall

Retail sales dropped 1.1% last month. Data for June was revised up to show retail sales increasing 0.7% instead of rising 0.6% as previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales slipping 0.3%. Sales increased 15.8% compared to July last year.

Receipts at auto dealerships fell 3.9% after declining 2.2% in June. Motor vehicle production has been hampered by a global shortage of semiconductors. The scarcity of chips has also impacted the availability of some household appliances like microwaves and fridges.

Read more at Reuters


Walmart Raises Forecast, Home Depot Reports Fewer Shoppers

Walmart Inc (WMT.N)increased its annual U.S. same-store sales forecast after beating analysts’ estimates on Tuesday, as shoppers coming out of lockdown bought more clothes, travel gear and back-to-school merchandise. As store sales rose, however, the pace of Walmart’s online growth slowed dramatically to 6% from 37% in the first quarter.

While Home Depot’s quarterly profit and revenue beat Wall Street estimates, same-store sales came in slightly below expectations as the company lapped a period a year earlier when customers flocked to its stores to buy paint, wood, gardening supplies and other materials for home remodeling projects.

Read more at CNBC and Reuters


US COVID Update – US Could Soon Hit More than 200,000 New Coronavirus Cases Per Day

The US could soon see more than 200,000 new cases of Covid-19 every day as the Delta variant spreads at a rapid pace, particularly among unvaccinated people, the director of the National Institutes of Health predicted. “I will be surprised if we don’t cross 200,000 cases a day in the next couple of weeks.” Dr. Francis Collins said on Fox News Sunday.

That mark is still a ways off. As of Saturday, the US has averaged about 129,000 daily new cases over the last 7 days, a number that has risen every day since July 5, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The country last averaged over 200,000 cases per day in January, before the Covid-19 vaccines were widely available.

Read more at CNN 


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Tuesday August 17th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 65.4% of all New Yorkers – 12,576,937 (plus 22,411 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,329,548 (plus 1,359) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 58.5% of all New Yorkers – 11,376,594 are fully vaccinated (Plus 15,641)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,189,825 (plus 1,898) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday August 16th.  There were 18 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,277.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,813

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.13%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.25%

Useful Websites:


New CDC Data: COVID-19 Vaccination Safe for Pregnant People

CDC has released new data on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people and is recommending all people 12 years of age and older get vaccinated against COVID-19.

A new CDC analysisexternal icon of current data from the v-safe pregnancy registry assessed vaccination early in pregnancy and did not find an increased risk of miscarriage among nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriage typically occurs in about 11-16% of pregnancies, and this study found miscarriage rates after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine were around 13%, similar to the expected rate of miscarriage in the general population.

Read more at The CDC


U.S. Industrial Output Gains Momentum in July

U.S. industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted 0.9% in July, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. That’s a fastest pace since March and follows a revised 0.2% gain in June. Despite the gains, production is still slightly below pre-crisis levels.

Capacity utilization rose to 76.1% in July, the highest rate since the pandemic struck last year. The capacity utilization rate reflects the limits to operating the nation’s factories, mines and utilities.  It’s still below the level of about 80% that could fan higher production costs and prices Manufacturing activity alone rose 1.4% in July, boosted by an 11.2% jump in output of motor vehicles and parts. Despite the gains, production of cars remains about 3.5% below its recent peak in January.

Read more at MarketWatch


Back-to-College Spending is Up

This fall, many more students are returning to college campuses—and while they are spending more than they did last fall, many are also waiting to see what will happen with the delta variant, according to CNBC.com. 

College students and their families expect to spend an average of $1,200.32—up about 13% from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual back-to-school spending survey. Prosper Insights & Analytics polled 7,704 consumers from July 1 to 8 for the survey. College spending is expected to total $71 billion, up from $67.7 billion last year, according to the survey.

Read more at CNBC


Ulster Health Commissioner Issues School Guidance 

The Ulster County Department of Health has released guidelines for the safe reopening of schools during the upcoming school year. County Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith is recommending the return to five-day-a-week, full-time in-person learning and that all individuals (faculty, staff, students, and contractors) should be required to wear masks at all times inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status.

The guidance also recommends safety precautions, including proper ventilation within school facilities and continued use of health screening for any individual entering the buildings. 

Read more at Mid-Hudson News


U.S. to Recommend Vaccine Boosters 8 Months After Second Dose

The Biden administration is expected later this week to recommend that the majority of Americans get a booster shot eight months after their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The boosters would be administered once the vaccines are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signs off on them.

World Health Organization chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier in August asked countries that were further along in their vaccination programs to hold off on administering booster shots until September to allow time for at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated.

Read More CBS News


 

Higher Food Costs Drive Historic Boost to Food Stamps

The Biden administration unveiled the largest-ever increase in food-stamp benefits. Following a review of the plan governing the nation’s food-stamp program, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the average monthly SNAP benefit would increase by $36 a person to $169. The increase, which totals $1.19 a day, reflects higher costs for a nutritious diet, the USDA said on Monday.

The change, set to take effect on Oct. 1, marks a more than 25% jump from what participants would have received once temporary pandemic assistance ends. Before the pandemic, beneficiaries on average received $121 a month, the USDA said, though that amount swelled due to temporary coronavirus-related measures. SNAP helps to feed more than 42 million Americans, and the benefit increase is the biggest in the program’s nearly 60-year history.

Read more at the WSJ


EV Wars – Mercedez-Benz Battery

Mercedez-Benz is just weeks away from beating Tesla with the long-distance charge on its new EQS 450+ model. But it still hasn’t hit that holy grail: the 1,000-kilometer EV. It’s “a goal that seems frustratingly ever-more-distant even as EV technology advances inexorably forward,” he writes.

Read more at Fortune


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 359

New York lawmakers Announce They’ll Finish Cuomo Impeachment Probe and Release a Final Report

Top Democrats in the New York state legislature will complete their impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reversing course after announcing they’d suspend the impeachment probe on Friday due to Cuomo’s imminent resignation from office. “The Assembly Judiciary Committee will continue to review evidence and issue a final report on its investigation of Governor Cuomo,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman Charles Levine, chair of the chamber’s Judiciary Committee, said in a Monday statement. 

“In doing so, the committee will take all appropriate steps to ensure that this effort does not interfere with various ongoing investigations by the United States Attorney concerning nursing home data; the attorney general concerning the Governor’s memoir; and local law enforcement authorities in five jurisdictions…concerning allegations of sexual harassment,” the statement continued.  The lists of topics are telling and indicate to employers quite clearly that the Board is going to plot a new course from the Trump Board.

Read more at Business Insider


Empire Manufacturing Survey: More Growth – But at a Slower Pace

Business activity continued to expand in New York State, according to firms responding to the August 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey, though growth was significantly slower than last month’s record-setting pace.

  • The headline general business conditions index fell twenty-five points to 18.3.
  • New orders increased modestly, and shipments grew slightly.
  • Delivery times continued to lengthen substantially, and inventories were somewhat higher.
  • Employment and the average workweek increased modestly. Input prices continued to rise sharply, and the pace of selling price increases set another record.
  • Looking ahead, firms remained optimistic that conditions would improve over the next six months, with substantial increases in employment and prices expected.

Read more at the NY Fed


Pelosi Floats Procedural Move on Infrastructure Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday floated a procedural move on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. In an effort to take moderates’ priorities into account, Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues Sunday that she has asked the House Rules Committee to “explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package.”

The House is returning to Washington next week in order to pass the Senate-approved $3.5 trillion budget resolution that will pave the way for a social spending bill that can pass with only Democratic votes. Some moderate Democrats are seeking an immediate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed earlier this month and have threatened to vote against the budget resolution unless the House first votes on the infrastructure bill. 

Read more at The Hill


The NLRB’S Recently Seated General Counsel Plots Entirely New Direction for the Board

Less than a month after being sworn in as the new General Counsel of the NLRB, Jennifer Abruzzo defined a bold new direction for the Board’s enforcement priorities in a memo issued on August 12, 2021.   Abruzzo’s memo makes clear she seeks to depart sharply from the priorities outlined by her predecessor, Peter Robb, and specifically targets for review areas where the Trump Board overruled past legal precedent.

The GC identifies three broad categories of topics that must be submitted for advice: (1) subject matter areas where, in the last several years, the Board overruled legal precedent; (2) new initiatives that the General Counsel would like to carefully examine, and; (3) matters traditionally submitted to advice.

Read more at the National Law Review


US COVID Update – Cases Surge as Students Return to Schools

Classrooms that have reopened for the fall are seeing a growing number of Covid-19 outbreaks just days into the semester, causing some schools to temporarily shut down buildings or send students home to quarantine. The outbreaks are among the first indications of how the virus is affecting schools, and come as the country pushes toward—and hopes for—a full return to in-person learning. 

The early outbreaks could portend another disruptive school year, said Paul Offit, an infectious-disease specialist who is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Our behavior matters, and our behavior is worse now than it was a year ago,” he said. Dr. Offit said that the loosened rules around safety protocols like masks, combined with the more contagious Delta variant an

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Sunday August 15th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 65.2% of all New Yorkers – 12,554,526 (plus 19,773 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,329,548 (plus 1,359) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 58.4% of all New Yorkers – 11,360,953 are fully vaccinated (Plus 13,394)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,189,825 (plus 1,898) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday August 15th.  There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,259.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,772

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.09%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.16%

Useful Websites:


Vaccination Mandate for NYS Healthcare Workers

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday that all healthcare workers in New York State, including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities (LTCF), including nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday, September 27. 

The State Department of Health will issue Section 16 Orders requiring all hospital, LTCF, and nursing homes to develop and implement a policy mandating employee vaccinations, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons. To date, 75% of the state’s ~450,000 hospital workers, 74% of the state’s ~30,000 adult care facility workers, and 68% of the state’s ~145,500 nursing home workers have completed their vaccine series. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration was briefed prior to the announcement.

Read the press release


OSHA Updates Guidance on Preventing Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued on August 13 updated guidance to help employers protect workers from the coronavirus. OSHA’s latest guidance:

  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission wear masks in order to protect unvaccinated workers;
  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers who have close contacts with people with coronavirus wear masks for up to 14 days unless they have a negative coronavirus test at least 3-5 days after such contact;
  • Clarifies recommendations to protect unvaccinated workers and other at-risk workers in manufacturing, meat and poultry processing, seafood processing and agricultural processing;
  • and Links to the latest guidance on K-12 schools and CDC statements on public transit.

OSHA continues to emphasize that vaccination is the optimal step to protect workers and encourages employers to engage with workers and their representatives to implement multi-layered approaches to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers from the coronavirus.

Read the guidance at OSHA


U.S. Economy Likely to Outgrow China’s Due to Contrast in Pandemic Responses

U.S. gross domestic product rose 12.2% in the second quarter of this year from a year earlier, outpacing China’s 7.9% gain. The American edge should continue for at least the next few quarters, many economists say. That would be the first sustained period since at least 1990 in which the U.S. economy grew faster than China’s.

In the short term, the reversal reflects the difference in the two nations’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus circulated earlier in China and the country’s leaders quickly imposed quarantines in the pandemic’s epicenter of Wuhan and elsewhere. Chinese GDP fell by 6.7% in the first quarter of 2020 from a year earlier, while the U.S. GDP registered a small gain.

Read more at the WSJ


New York Requiring Vaccines for Museum Visitors and Staff

New York City has announced it is requiring vaccinations for museum visitors and staffers as COVID-19 cases continue to tick up in the country. The new policy includes vaccination mandates for museums, concert halls, aquariums, gyms, professional sporting venues and zoos. 

“Starting tomorrow, you’ll need proof of vaccination to unlock everything New York City has to offer,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) tweeted on Monday. 

Read more at The Hill


China Economy Under Pressure as Factory Output, Retail Sales Growth Slow Sharply

Worries grew about the health of China’s economic recovery from the covid-19 pandemic after it reported lower-than-expected factory output and retail-sales growth in July. Economists blamed travel restrictions, floods and typhoons for the bad news. In recent weeks many have cut their forecasts for Chinese GDP growth this year as the Delta variant spreads around the country.

  • Industrial output +6.4% y/y vs June’s +8.3%, Reuters poll +7.8%
  • Retail sales +8.5% y/y vs June’s +12.1%, Reuters poll +11.5%
  • Fixed asset investment +10.3% in Jan-July, Reuters poll +11.3%

Analysts expect growth to continue to slow.

Read more at Reuters


Boeing to Remove Starliner from Rocket, Months-Long Delay Expected

Boeing announced Friday that it has to send its troubled CST-100 Starliner capsule to a factory for repairs, delaying an unmanned test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) for several months. The spacecraft had been due to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on August 3 on an Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance but the flight was delayed because of problems with four propulsion system valves.

Boeing said it would be forced to remove the capsule from the Atlas V rocket and transport it to a factory at the Kennedy Space Center for “deeper-level troubleshooting” of the valves.

Read more at IndustryWeek


FEMA’s Funerals Reach $1 Billion

A massive FEMA program is helping to reimburse the high costs of funerals in the COVID-19 era—so far, it’s reached $1 billion in disbursements, a grim statistic, but less than half of what was originally earmarked for the program in December 2020. According to one official, funeral assistance is part of the regular disaster assistance program, “but not to this scale, normally.”

There have been more than 150,000 applicants to the massive FEMA program, which all indications suggest will be issuing COVID-19-related funeral aid through 2023. 

Read more at Fortune


U.S. regulators launch formal investigation into Tesla Autopilot system

Federal vehicle safety regulators have launched a formal investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system following a series of crashes that have left at least 17 people injured and one dead, according to documents filed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Autopilot is Tesla’s limited self-driving feature that still requires a human to operate.

The formal investigation comes just months after the NHTSA and National Transportation Safety Board said they were looking into the company, following a crash in Texas. In recent months there have been several probes into Tesla’s Autopilot, including an investigation in March after a Model Y using the system reportedly struck a stationary police car.

Read more at CNBC


The Economist:


 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 358

Producer Prices Rise

Producer prices for final demand goods and services increased 1% in July, matching June’s increase, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Manufacturing leaders continue to cite supply chain disruptions as a key challenge, and the data reflect additional sharp rises in raw material prices,” NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray said. “While some of these increases will likely be transitory, there will also likely be some cost pressures that will not abate, particularly given the strength of the rebounding economy. That will put pressure on the Federal Reserve and its stance of keeping rates near zero with aggressive bond-buying for the foreseeable future.”

  • Energy costs increased for the third month in a row, reaching 2.6% in July.
  • The price of food decreased 2.1% in July, down for the first time since December 2020.
  • In the past 12 months, producer prices for final demand goods and services have soared a seasonally adjusted 7.7%, the largest increase on record.

Read more at the Bureau of Labor Statistics


State Education Department Issues COVID Guidance for Schools

The state Education Department issued a health and safety guide Thursday for dealing with COVID-19 in the state’s schools that generally highlights the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.  Below are some of its provisions:

  • Masks indoors and on school buses where recommended by the CDC
  • Three feet of social distancing, or six feet between students and unvaccinated staff members
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Improved ventilation
  • Handwashing
  • Staying home when sick
  • Regular cleaning practices

The guide did speak strongly about the potential spread of the virus among certain sports participants and extracurricular activities such as band. When it comes to sports, higher amounts of respiration may create a situation for spreading COVID-19, the guide states.


U.S.-Manufactured Goods Exports on Track to Be Just Shy of 2019 Pace

U.S.-manufactured goods exports were on track to reach $1,348.52 billion in 2021, rebounding from $1,168.19 billion in 2020 and just 1.24% below the pace seen in 2019 ($1,365.49 billion), based on seasonally adjusted data through the first two quarters.

The U.S. trade deficit rose to $75.75 billion in June, a new record, buoyed by a sharp increase in goods imports. Goods exports and imports both increased to new heights in June. At the same time, the service-sector trade surplus dropped to $17.43 billion in June, the lowest level since August 2012.

Read more at the Census Bureau


China’s New Five-Year Economic Plan that Would Strengthen its Grip on Crucial Sectors

The Chinese government has unveiled a five-year plan outlining tighter regulation of much of its economy.  It says new rules will be introduced covering areas including national security, technology and monopolies in the world’s second largest economy.

The 10-point plan, which runs to the end of 2025, was released jointly late on Wednesday by China’s State Council and the Communist Party’s Central Committee. It said laws will be strengthened for “important fields” such as science and technological innovation, culture and education.

Read more at the BBC


US COVID Update – Mortality Nears 500/Day

The US CDC reported 36.3 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 617,096 deaths. The current average of 114,190 new cases per day is the highest since February 6. It appears, however, as though the US may be passing an inflection point, but it is difficult to determine whether this is an artifact of reporting frequency or an early indication of a longer-term trend. Daily mortality appears to continue its exponential increase up to 492 deaths per day, the highest average since May 22.

The US has administered 353.9 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations continue to increase steadily, up to 640,617 doses per day. A total of 196.5 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose, equivalent to 59.2% of the entire US population. Among adults, 71.5% have received at least 1 dose, as well as 11.9 million adolescents aged 12-17 years.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Sunday August 15th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 65.1% of all New Yorkers – 12,534,753 (plus 26,040 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,327,661 (plus 2,783) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 58.3% of all New Yorkers – 11,347,559 are fully vaccinated (Plus 17,116)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,188,466 (plus 1,898) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday August 14th.  There were 18 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,248.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,650

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.06%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.25%

Useful Websites:


Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine May be Much Less Effective Against the Delta Variant Than Moderna’s

There is now mounting evidence that mRNA-based vaccines such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s lose potency over time and especially against the Delta variant, and that the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy drop is significantly more dramatic. The Mayo Clinic study noted a wide shortfall in the mRNA vaccines’ ability to prevent infections among patients using the Mayo Clinic Health System for the month of July, when Delta variant cases made up more than 70% of new local infections in its home state of Minnesota, compared with earlier in the year.

One key issue raised by the study, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, for the millions of Americans who received two doses of Pfizer’s treatment is whether or not a Pfizer booster dose—either of the currently available jab or a new and updated version—is necessary to keep up with mutations or prevent COVID-19 reinfection from older coronavirus strains.

Read more at Fortune


FDA Clears Booster Shots for Vulnerable Patients

The agency authorized booster-shots amid evidence that vaccines are less effective protecting immunocompromised people from Covid-19 than they are in protecting the general population. Some public health experts and vaccine makers have also recommended boosters as necessary for broader swaths of the population to keep strong protection against newer variants of the coronavirus, and because some preliminary research indicates vaccines may lose effectiveness over time. 

The Biden administration is expected to lay out a plan for boosters by early September.

Read more at Reuters


Census Data Show US is Diversifying

The U.S. became more diverse and more urban over the past decade, the Census Bureau reported last week as it released a trove of demographic data that will be used to redraw the nation’s political maps. Americans continued to migrate to the South and West at the expense of the Midwest and Northeast, the figures showed. The share of the white population fell from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020.

  • Slightly more than half—51.1%—of the total U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020 came from growth in the Hispanic or Latino population.
  • Those under age 18 totaled 73.1 million, or 22.1% of the U.S. population in 2020, a 1.4% decrease from 74.2 million in 2010.
  • The multiracial U.S. population was recorded at nine million in 2010 and is now 33.8 million. The Census Bureau cautioned that changes in how it processed answers were adjusted in 2020.
  • As many cities and suburbs expanded, the bureau said, the trend toward rural depopulation continued during the decade.
  • Twenty-three congressional districts mostly concentrated in the suburbs and exurbs of Sunbelt cities grew by more than 20% since 2010.

Read more at Yahoo News


State Borrowed $10B for Pandemic Unemployment Claims: Now it Must be Repaid

The sharp jump in unemployment insurance claims during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic emptied out the state’s dedicated fund for paying unemployment insurance, forcing New York to borrow $10 billion from the federal Department of Labor.

Going forward, the state will have to pay that back with the money coming from employers who are already seeing sharply higher unemployment insurance rates. “We know it’s a $10 billion tax on businesses over time that has to be paid back,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president of the Business Council of New York State.

Read more at the Times Union


New York Attorney General Calls on Congress to Pass PRO Act, Reverse Right To Work Law

New York Attorney General Letitia James, as part of a coalition of 17 attorneys general, has called on the U.S. Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021 (PRO Act). In a letter to Congress, the multistate coalition of Attorneys General highlights the urgent need to pass the PRO Act and urges the U.S. Senate to act to “improve the lives of America’s working families.”

The PRO Act provides protections for workers trying to organize by overhauling the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), providing the rights to organize, unionize, and bargain collectively.  The NAM and other Business organizations strongly oppose this legislation.


Business Groups Will Fight Tax Hikes in Budget Bill

Business groups, which celebrated the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday, are preparing to aggressively lobby against Democrats’ broader $3.5 trillion spending package even as House leaders say they will not pass one bill without the other. The largest business groups, including the Chamber, National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, praised the bipartisan infrastructure bill Tuesday as it passed the Senate and urged the House to swiftly vote on the spending package.

“Since I don’t believe there are 50 votes in the Senate to raise taxes right now, I think President Biden, who very much wants and needs a bipartisan win right now, will ultimately prevail against Pelosi and the progressives if they try to hold up the bipartisan package,” said Alex Vogel, CEO of lobbying firm The Vogel Group and a former Senate GOP aide.

Read more at The Hill


Another 375,000 Filed New Unemployment Claims Last Week

New weekly jobless claims took another step lower last week, with the labor market’s recovery still making headway despite the lingering threat of the Delta variant. Continuing claims also dipped to a fresh pandemic-era low below 3 million, pacing back toward pre-virus levels.

Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended August 7: 375,000 vs. 375,000 expected and a revised 387,000 during prior week 
  • Continuing claims, week ended July 31: 2.866 million vs. 2.900 million expected and a revised 2.980 million during prior week

Read more at Yahoo Finance


JPMorgan Chase Global PMI Eases, Still Strong

The global economic upturn remained solid at the start of  the third quarter, with output growth especially robust in the euro area and US.

The services sector outperformed its manufacturing counterpart for the fourth successive month. The J.P.Morgan Global Composite Output Index – produced by J.P.Morgan and IHS Markit in association with ISM and IFPSM – slipped to a four-month low of 55.7 in July, down from 56.6 in June, remaining above its long-run average of 53.4.

The headline index has signaled expansion in each of the past 13 months.

Read more at JPMorgan Chase


The Economist: Most COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Should be Scrapped

Today’s travel restrictions are supposed to protect natives from imported covid. Yet they do a poor job of it. A few countries, mostly islands and dictatorships, have managed to keep out the virus through truly draconian restrictions. Even this has come at a cost in terms of reducing pressure to be vaccinated quickly. 

There is a better way of regulating global travel. The first principle is to default to open borders. The second is for all countries to accept vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation. The third is to ensure that rules are transparent and universal. Too often, political expediency trumps science.

Read more at The Economist


 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 357

Kathy Hochul Vows Change From ‘Toxic’ Cuomo Administration

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that she is ready to take over as governor from Andrew Cuomo in two weeks, and vowed not to have a “toxic” workplace, as Cuomo allegedly has had for three terms. “The governor and I have not been close,” Hochul told reporters at her first press conference.

Hochul also said, “I’m fully prepared to assume the responsibilities of the 57th governor of New York.” She had already held meetings and calls with members of the New York legislature, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, former Sen. Hillary Clinton, as well as business and faith leaders, and other governors of northeast states.

Read more at CNBC


Senate Passes Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Budget Blueprint

The party line vote, 50-49, came just before 4 a.m., one day after the Senate passed a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. It is an initial victory for President Biden and congressional Democrats who are seeking to pass as much of their legislative agenda as possible this year, before next year’s midterm elections overtake Capitol Hill.

The House is expected to return to Washington the week of Aug. 23 to vote on the budget resolution, If the House passes a budget resolution identical to the Senate’s, Democrats can unlock a special process known as reconciliation that allows them to pass legislation with a simple majority in the Senate rather than the 60 votes most bills need. 

Read more at the WSJ


Inflation: CPI Rises 5.4% in July, Core Up 4.3%

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that its consumer price index rose 5.4% in July from a year earlier, in line with June’s figure and matching the largest jump since August 2008. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, rose by 0.3% last month. The core figure is up 4.3% over the last year, a slight deceleration from June’s 4.5%.

Shelter costs, which are seen as a more structural component of the CPI and make up about a third of the overall index, increased 0.4% and accounted for more than half the monthly gain in the core index.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Inflation Negates The Recent Rise in Wages

Companies big and small are raising wages to attract workers and hold onto employees as the economy revs back into gear. But those fatter paychecks aren’t going as far, thanks to rising inflation.  In fact, compensation is now lower than it was in December 2019, when adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis by Jason Furman, an economics professor at Harvard University.

The Employment Cost Index — which measures wages and salaries, along with health, retirement and other benefits — fell in the last quarter and is 2% below its pre-pandemic trend, when taking inflation into account. Employees of the utilities industry saw their real compensation slide 1% since December 2019.  Manufacturing fell 0.7% and in transportation and warehousing, real compensation slipped 0.6%.

Read more at CNN


US COVID Update – Mortality Rising Fast In Unvaccinated Regions

The US continues to face a COVID-19 surge, with the most severe burden faced by states in the South and Southeast regions of the country. The national biweekly relative change peaked at more than +160% in late July, but a slight decrease to +119% indicates that the increase is beginning to taper off.

While full vaccination coverage has surpassed 50% nationally, major disparities remain at the state level. Analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that all 12 states that are reporting per capita hospitalizations greater than the national average have full vaccination coverage below the national average.  At the local level, counties with the lowest vaccination coverage also are experiencing much larger surges in mortality, compared to counties with higher vaccination coverage. These statistics illustrate that vaccines are providing protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Wednesday August 11th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 64.5% of all New Yorkers – 12,409,680 (plus 29,720 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,315,825 (plus 2,202) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.9% of all New Yorkers – 11,267,589 are fully vaccinated (Plus 15,385)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,180,205 (plus 1,535) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday August 10th.  There were 15 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,184.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,367

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.01%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.11%

Useful Websites:


Biden Wants Private Businesses to Mandate Vaccines

President Biden is pushing for all businesses to require the vaccine for workers. His meeting with business leaders on Wednesday who have required the COVID-19 vaccine for employees, including United Airlines and Kaiser Permanente, is designed to highlight companies, including small ones, that have “taken the right step to create safer workplaces,” said Kevin Munoz, White House assistant press secretary.

Some private companies have imposed vaccine mandate for employees following Biden’s directive that all federal employees show that they are vaccinated or submit to regular testing for COVID-19.

Read more at The Hill


Federal Contractors Must Comply with New COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates for On-Site Employees

Federal contractors are being contacted by their contracting agencies about implementing requirements relating to President Joe Biden’s mandate that all federal employees and on-site contractor employees either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face repeated testing, and comply with strict social distancing and masking requirements.

Currently, the mandate for federal contractors is limited to employees who work on-site at federal facilities and the requirements are being issued as a site access safety protocol: any worker who does not comply with the requirements will be denied site access. However, in the White House press release on the new mandate indicates that the requirements could be imposed on federal contractors more broadly later to include workers other than those who work at federal sites.

Read more at Jackson Lewis


Pelosi: No Vote on Infrastructure this Month

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made clear to rank-and-file Democrats on Wednesday that the House will not take up the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package this month, rejecting calls from moderates in her caucus who are demanding a quick vote. Pelosi, since the infrastructure talks launched in earnest months ago, has adopted the position that the House will not turn to the $1 trillion infrastructure package until the Senate passes a much larger $3.5 trillion package chock full of Democratic social benefits programs and climate initiatives.

That strategy has been championed by progressive lawmakers in the House who don’t quite trust some of the centrist Democrats in the Senate and want to use the bipartisan infrastructure bill as leverage — critics say as hostage — to ensure the larger $3.5 trillion package clears the upper chamber.

Read more at The Hill


Machine-Tool Orders Are Up 48.6% Year To Date

New machine-tool orders were about $2.51 billion in the first six months of 2021, 48.6% higher than the year-ago period and above pre-pandemic figures, according to data from the Association for Manufacturing Technology. 

The data is reported by AMT in its monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report, a forward-looking index to manufacturing activity presenting actual data for capital investments in new machine tools. The total reflects machine shops and other manufacturers planning for future work orders – specifically, new orders of metal-cutting and metal-forming and -fabricating equipment.

Read more at American Machinist 


Moderna Opening Vaccine Plant in Canada

U.S. biotech company Moderna will build a plant in Canada to produce vaccines for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, the Canadian government and the company announced Tuesday. Canada currently has no domestic vaccine production, and so has depended on imports of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and other jabs to inoculate its 38 million people against the novel coronavirus.

Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne made the announcement with the head of Moderna, saying the plant would fulfill orders for its messenger RNA vaccines, with manufacturers struggling to meet soaring demand for Covid-19 shots worldwide.

Read more at IndustryWeek


White House Calls on OPEC to Boost Oil Production as Gasoline Prices Rise

The White House is calling on OPEC and its oil-producing allies to boost production in an effort to combat climbing gasoline prices, amid concerns that rising inflation could derail the economic recovery from Covid. Biden administration officials spoke with representatives from OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia this week, as well as with representatives from the United Arab Emirates and other OPEC+ members.

The Biden administration is also calling on the Federal Trade Commission to “monitor the U.S. gasoline market” and “address any illegal conduct that might be contributing to price increases for consumers at the pump.”

Read more at CNBC


From January: Biden Makes Sweeping Changes to Oil and Gas Policy

President Joe Biden has followed through on a campaign pledge by introducing a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. With nearly 25 percent of U.S. oil and gas production coming from federal lands, the policy shift may have significant implications for future investment and production.

The backlash from oil and gas producing states will be fierce and lawsuits have already begun, but the Biden administration views this policy as a key part of its climate agenda and is unlikely to change course.

Read more at the Center for Strategic & International Studies


 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 356

Cuomo Resigns Effective August 24th 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced he is “stepping aside” from his office.  An investigation released last week found Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple women and violated state law.” Cuomo has repeatedly denied the allegations, but today said he has “been too familiar with people” and apologized to the women he said he “truly offended.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo added during his address Tuesday that he sees “the world through the eyes of my daughters.” “I want them to know” that I never did “intentionally disrespect” a woman, Cuomo said.  “Your dad made mistakes, and he apologized,” he added

Cuomo called the impeachment investigation into him “politically motivated” — but added that he was stepping down because he would “never want to be unhelpful in any way. “I’m a New Yorker, born and bred. I’m a fighter and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated, I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful and I believe it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society,” he said.

Read more at Politico


Manufacturing Job Openings

Manufacturing job openings remained highly elevated in June for the third straight month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, openings have decreased from the record high of 853,000 in May, coming in at 826,000 in June.

In June, manufacturers hired 469,000 workers, an increase from 427,000 in May, and there was an uptick in hiring for both durable and nondurable goods companies. “These data offer an encouraging sign that manufacturers feel confident enough about economic growth over the coming months for their businesses to post new jobs,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “Yet, manufacturing business leaders continue to cite difficulties with attracting and retaining talent as one of their top concerns.”

Read more at the BLS


Job Openings Top 10 Million in June, Another Record High

Employers added 590,000 job openings as of the end of June, reaching 10.1 million, according to the Labor Department’s latest JOLTS report. Hiring also rose to reach 6.7 million new hires in June versus 5.9 million in May.  The rate of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs — a sign of workers’ confidence — increased to 2.7%. That level is well above the pandemic-era low of 1.6% in April 2020.

“This is another sign of just how strong demand for workers is… it doesn’t look like we’ll see any significant slowdown in the months ahead,” Nick Bunker, director of research at Indeed, told Yahoo Money. “The bargaining power is tilted more towards workers now than it has been in the recent past.”

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Senate Passes Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Bill – Future in House Uncertain

Senators voted 69-30 on the bill, which was spearheaded by a bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Nineteen GOP senators voted with all Democrats to pass the legislation. The bipartisan deal includes roughly $550 billion in new funding, making it substantially smaller than the $2.6 trillion proposed by Biden earlier this year.

The bill is now heading to the House, where it faces an uncertain future and skepticism from progressives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has vowed she won’t take it up until the Senate passes the second part of its infrastructure two step, a sweeping $3.5 trillion spending package that includes Democrats’ top priorities.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID Update – New COVID-19 Infections Hit Six-Month High

The United States is averaging more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, the highest numbers since February, before vaccines became widely available.  COVID-19 cases have averaged more than 100,000 for three days in a row, up about 35 percent over the past week.

Infections have been rising sharply since just after July 4, a spike attributable to the delta variant of the coronavirus.   Hospitalizations have also spiked in the past week, though there has been a clear disparity between states that have large numbers of people vaccinated and those that don’t.

Read more at The Hill


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Tuesday August 10th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 64.3% of all New Yorkers – 12,379,960 (plus 23,722 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,313,623 (plus 2,573) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.8% of all New Yorkers – 11,252,204 are fully vaccinated (Plus 14,214)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,178,670 (plus 1,679) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday August 9th.  There were 17 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,168.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,345

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.97%
  • Mid-Hudson: 3.05%

Useful Websites:


These 18 New York Counties are Now at High Level of Community Spread

Forty eight of New York’s 62 counties should now require the wearing of masks indoors, and 18 of them have reached the highest level of COVID-19 community spread, federal data shows.  Last week 33 counties should require indoor mask wearing; as of Sunday night, it was 48.

18 counties, up from five a week ago, are now deemed at having the highest level of spread: around New York City, its suburbs and into the Albany area.  In fact, most of the Hudson Valley is now listed as having high rates of transmission, including Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan and Dutchess. Putnam and Ulster remained on the substantial list.

Read more at LoHud.com


Pentagon to Mandate Vaccine for Service Members

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he would make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for U.S service members by mid-September, an effort by the Biden administration to combat the highly contagious Delta variant sweeping across the country. During the pandemic, the military has altered its training to keep troops apart and add isolation periods before and after deployments, extending troops’ time away from home and cutting into training time.

The Pentagon vaccination rate is slightly ahead of the national average at 73%. the Pentagon said Monday. Among the services, the Navy has the highest vaccination rate, as 81% of sailors are fully vaccinated, as compared with 60% of the Marine Corps, which has the lowest rate among the services. About 1.3 million men and women serve in uniform across the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Space Force.

Read more at the WSJ


Kathy Hochul Will Take Over as New York Governor

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become governor of New York after Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he will resign in two weeks. 
Hochul will become the state’s first female governor and stands to inherit a political landscape that Cuomo dominated for more than a decade. 
Hochul, 62, has served as Cuomo’s lieutenant for nearly the last seven years. 

She is the 2020 Council of Industry Manufacturing Champion and a longtime supporter of manufacturing in the State.  Since taking office Hochul has been in charge of the State’s Regional Economic Development Council strategy and Workforce Development efforts.


Amazon to Require Masks, Give Away Cash, Cars in Max Your Vax Lottery 

Amazon is going big in its efforts to get more workers vaccinated against the coronavirus, even as it announced it will reinstate a mask mandate at its warehouses effective Oct. 9, regardless of workers’ vaccination status. The company is holding the Max Your Vax lottery, which will feature cars, vacations and cash amounts of up to $500,000 as prizes for workers who show they’re fully vaccinated.

Beginning last Monday, employees are required to wear face coverings inside Amazon operations facilities — even if they’re vaccinated — according to a notice sent employees.

Read more at CNBC


What’s In the Infrastructure Bill Passed By the Senate

Despite its reduced size, the bill is still, by any account, big. It currently allocates:

  • $110 billion for roads and bridges
  • $105 billion on water infrastructure, including $55 billion on drinking water and lead pipe replacement and $50 billion on water systems resilience against droughts and cyberattacks
  • $73.5 billion on upgraded power infrastructure, including $65 billion in upgraded power infrastructure like new transmission lines and $7.5 billion for a national network of electric vehicle chargers
  • $66 billion on passenger rail, including $22 billion in grants for Amtrak
  • $65 billion in broadband internet funding, to expand internet access for rural communities
  • $39 billion in public transit programs and improve elderly/disabled access
  • $25 billion in airport infrastructure
  • $21 billion in environmental remediation for Superfund and brownfield sites
  • $17 billion in port infrastructure
  • $11 billion in transportation safety programs
  • And $7.5 billion in new zero-emissions busses and ferries.

Read more at IndustryWeek


The Senate Bill has Many “Pay-Fors” 

Many who opposed the bill cited its prodigious price tag. Criticism of the size of the bill intensified after the Congressional Budget Office estimated its passage would add $256 billion to the federal deficit over the coming decade.

According to the Associated Press, the bill will be funded by a wide variety of measures, including:

  • $205 billion in funding from COVID-19 relief funds rejected by the states
  • $87 billion from spectrum auctions for 5G services
  • $56 billion from projected economic growth
  • $49 billion from delaying implementation of a Medicare rule that passes rebates to beneficiaries
  • $28 billion from strengthened tax enforcement on cryptocurrencies
  • And $6 billion from selling part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Read more at IndustryWeek


U.S. Increases Action Against Forced Labor in China

U.S. lawmakers and Biden administration officials are stepping up pressure on American businesses to stop imports from the Western Chinese region of Xinjiang as Beijing’s alleged use of forced labor emerges as a top item on their bilateral trade agenda. Western officials say the Chinese government uses forced labor of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, the world’s leading producer of cotton and raw materials used in solar panels. Beijing strongly denies the claim.

Imports of cotton and tomato products have already been effectively banned since January, and penalties on purchases of some solar materials were implemented in June. 

Read more at the WSJ


Canada Opens Its Land Border For Vaccinated American Visitors

Canada lifted its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit on Monday while the United States is maintaining similar restrictions for Canadians, part of a bumpy return to normalcy from COVID-19 travel bans.

U.S. citizens and legal residents must be both fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 within three days to get across one of the world’s longest and busiest land borders, and Canadian officials warn they won’t sacrifice safety for shorter border waits. Travelers also must fill out a detailed application on the arriveCAN app before crossing.

Read more at NPR


 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 355

Senate Democrats Outline $3.5 Trillion Antipoverty, Climate Plan

The plan includes universal prekindergarten, two free years of community college, and expanded Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision care. Democrats are planning to raise taxes on corporations and high-income households to cover the cost of the $3.5 trillion plan, which also calls for a federal paid leave benefit, a series of energy tax incentives, and a program to push the U.S. to receive 80% of its electricity from clean sources by 2030.

The plan outlined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Monday also includes offering a pathway to citizenship for certain migrants to the U.S. and lowering the price of prescription drugs. It doesn’t include a measure to increase the U.S. government’s borrowing limit, meaning Democrats will seek to raise the debt ceiling with GOP support in the coming weeks. 

Read more at the WSJ


Vaccine Mandates Sweep Across Corporate America + Take the Council of Industry Quick Member Survey

The U.S. government may not require that everyone get Covid-19 vaccines, but large employers across corporate America are stepping into the void. More than a dozen large U.S. corporations, including Walmart, Google, Tyson Foods and United Airlines, have recently announced vaccine mandates for some or all of their workers.

We want to know what Council Members are thinking and what actions they are taking.  Please take our quick survey. Results will be shared next week. 


Top Cuomo Aide Melissa DeRosa Resigns

It’s undoubtedly the most significant loss for the Cuomo administration, even at the end of a week in which the governor has been condemned by everybody from the president to the state legislators who now have the votes to impeach him. DeRosa has been widely viewed as Cuomo’s most trusted adviser and gained national fame when she occupied the seat next to him at last year’s pandemic briefings.

DeRosa was a prominent figure in Attorney General Tish James’ report corroborating allegations of sexual misconduct made against Cuomo. According to the report, she contributed to the hierarchical culture of bullying, fear and retaliation in the executive chamber that prevented women from coming forward with their accusations or believing those claims would be taken seriously.

Read more at Politico


Assembly Judiciary Committee Impeachment Inquiry Will Conclude as Early as This Month

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Monday that the goal of the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry into Governor Andrew Cuomo is to conclude “all due haste.” The committee last week sent a letter to Cuomo’s legal team asking him to provide any additional evidence before it concludes its inquiry on August 13.

At the start of Monday’s hearing, Judiciary Committee chair Charles Lavine  said the committee will review the AG’s report in addition to its own findings. For three months, a law firm selected by the committee has been collecting evidence related to sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, as well as his administration’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes, allegations related to the use of state resources in connection with Cuomo’s memoir and other issues. At a press conference after the hearing, Lavine said he expects public hearings to take place “after August 23.”

Read More at CBS News


US COVID Update – Half of Total US Population Fully Vaccinated

Half of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a White House official said Friday.  White House Data Director Cyrus Shahpar announced in a tweet that 50 percent of all Americans are fully vaccinated as part of an update on daily vaccination data.  

The updated data showed more than 821,000 doses were administered, including 565,000 people getting their first shot, in the past day. The seven-day average of newly vaccinated people rose 44 percent in the past two weeks, suggesting more unvaccinated people are getting their shots.  

Read more at The Hill


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Monday August 9th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 64.3% of all New Yorkers – 12,356,238 (plus 21,797 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,3110 (plus 2,471) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.8% of all New Yorkers – 11,237,990 are fully vaccinated (Plus 10,769)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,176,019 (plus 1,388) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday August 8th.  There were 12 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,151.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,225

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.96%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.98%

Useful Websites:


The Signs You Have the Delta Variant are Different than Original COVID-19

The delta variant of COVID-19 can have symptoms that are more mild and typically not associated with the virus that some may mistake the illness as allergies or another common sickness.   Many patients present with symptoms that appear to be run-of-the-mill illnesses, like sinus congestion, runny nose and sore throat. These symptoms could be signs that patients have the delta variant.

  • Cough, fever, and shortness of breath are common COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Sinus congestion, runny nose and sore throat are symptoms of becoming infected with the delta variant.
  • Sneezing more than usual is a symptom of having the delta variant.

Read more at The Hill


Mass(k) Confusion – Schools Reopening

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance in July recommending that students and faculty wear masks in school buildings. But the federal government doesn’t require it, leaving the ultimate decisions to states, cities and individual school districts.

When students in California and Illinois head back to school in a few weeks, they will have to wear masks. Florida and Arizona, meanwhile, banned mask requirements in schools. Some, but not all, districts there are insisting on them anyway. Local school leaders in Georgia can make their own choices about masking, and policies differ from one district to the next.  New York State has not made a decision on school mask mandates as of yet. 

Read more at the WSJ


IPCC Report is ‘Code Red for Humanity’

Human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways, a major UN scientific report has said.  The landmark study warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade.

The report “is a code red for humanity” But scientists say a catastrophe can be avoided if the world acts fast. There is hope that deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases could stabilise rising temperatures.  UN Secretary General António Guterres said: “If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.”

Read more at the BBC


Aramco Posts Nearly 300% Leap in Second-Quarter Profit as Oil Demand Recovers

Saudi state oil giant Aramco reported a stunning 288% increase in net income to $25.5 billion for the second quarter, while maintaining its dividend of $18.8 billion, as big oil benefits from higher prices and a recovery in worldwide demand. 

Aramco’s net income of $25.5 billion for the quarter compares to $6.6 billion in the same quarter of 2020. The result beat expectations, with analysts expecting a median net income of $24.7 billion for the quarter. 

Read more at CNBC


McMahon: Albany’s Budget Blowout is Unsustainable

Buoyed by nearly $13 billion in unrestricted federal stimulus aid—plus billions more in funding targeted directly to school districts and local governments—Albany’s budget for fiscal year 2022 raised the baseline of recurring state operations spending by nearly 8 percent, to a level that won’t be sustainable once the federal cash is exhausted in a few years. For the first time ever, New York is projecting balanced state budgets across two consecutive fiscal years. But the fiscal hangover, dawning in the second half of the 2020s, could be a brutal combination of large deficits and eroding revenues—even assuming a continuous expansion of the national and regional economy.

Read more at the Empire Center


Pharmaceutical Firms Make Billions With COVID Jabs

Germany’s BioNTech, maker with partner Pfizer of the pioneering mRNA jab, raised its vaccine revenue forecast for 2021 in its latest earnings report on Monday.

Pfizer has earned more than its competitors, raking in $10.8 billion (9.2 billion euros) in the first half of this year. The US company has raised its outlook for 2021, expecting to make $33.5 billion in sales for the full year. BioNTech reported on Tuesday revenues of $7.3 billion euros in the first half. Unlike its larger partner, the company’s only product on sale is the coronavirus vaccine.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Excelsior Pass Plus Intended to Support the Safe, Secure Return of Tourism and Business Travel

Governor Cuomo last week announced the launch of Excelsior Pass Plus to expand travel and commerce opportunities for New Yorkers by enabling compatibility between New York State’s Excelsior Pass platform and the  globally recognized SMART Health Cards Framework developed by an international consortium called VCI. This includes a first-in-the-nation partnership with VeriFLY by Daon.

New Yorkers will be able to display their Excelsior Pass Plus at hundreds of businesses and locations that require proof of vaccination, as well as when traveling to entities where SMART Health Cards are accepted. Excelsior Pass Plus will provide New Yorkers safe access to retrieve a secure, digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination record using the SMART Health Cards Framework – making their interstate and international travel and commerce experiences safer, contact-less, and more seamless. 

Read the press release


Warehouses are Luring Workers from Other Industries

Greater demand for warehouse space stemming from a structural shift in supply chain dynamics has led to a highly competitive labor environment in many markets, which COVID-19 has exacerbated. In 2Q 2021, a record 423.7 million square feet of industrial space was under construction across the U.S. An estimated 282,470 additional workers could be needed to support activities within these facilities. Increasingly, employees in other industries are switching jobs to work within the warehousing/transportation (W/T) sector.

Approximately half of employees making this change previously worked in the retail/wholesale and administrative/support services, and this flow is likely to accelerate. Recent national wage growth in those sectors lagged gains in W/T wages, which grew by 4.25% from January to June 2021, a record 6-month gain for the sector.

Read more at Material Handling and Logistics


 

 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 354

Infrastructure Bill Clears Senate Hurdle – Final Vote Expected Early This Week

The roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill cleared another procedural hurdle in the Senate to bring the agreement one step closer to final passage in a rare weekend session. Lawmakers on Saturday were still seeking to reach an agreement on holding votes on a final set of amendments. Republicans and Democrats fell short of that agreement meaning the bill could ultimately proceed without any further amendment votes.

But the procedural vote once again demonstrated the agreement’s strong bipartisan support, putting the deal on track to easily pass the Senate. The bill will face a more complicated path in the House, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has said she wouldn’t bring it up until the Senate also passes a $3.5 trillion antipoverty and climate bill.

Read more at the WSJ


Impeachment Investigation Case Against Cuomo Wrapping Up

In a letter sent Thursday, lawyers working for the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment probe informed Cuomo’s attorneys that the “Committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client.” 

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is said to be deeply concerned with getting impeachment exactly right given that Cuomo has resisted calls from all corners to resign, over sexual harassment allegations he vigorously denies. He badly wants the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee to create an airtight, legally bulletproof, and dispassionate case against Cuomo, so the governor can’t somehow escape on a technicality, or distract from the shocking sexual harassment charges against him by nitpicking holes in the legal proceedings.

“He who draws his sword against his prince must throw away the scabbard .”

Read more at New York Magazine


Vaccine Mandates Split Corporate America

Business leaders broadly agree they need to get more workers vaccinated to keep the U.S. economy humming in the face of the fast-spreading Delta variant. But they’re split over how best to do that. Some are dangling bigger bonuses or other incentives to cajole employees into getting the Covid-19 vaccine. Others have started requiring workers get the shot.

Both strategies come with risks for employers, their workers and their customers, and both could shape the course of the pandemic. More than a third of American adults have not gotten vaccinated, according to the latest U.S. data. Firms using a lighter touch risk workplace outbreaks. Those mandating shots risk losing workers in a tight job market.

Read more in the WSJ


Manufacturing Adds 27,000 Jobs in July as Wages Grow

The industrial sector of the U.S. economy added 27,000 jobs in July compared to the Department of Labor’s final June figure of 39,000. The overall nonfarm economy added 943,000 jobs total as the national unemployment rate fell half a point to 5.4%. At the same time, the U.S. workweek for the average manufacturing employee rose by 24 minutes to 40 hours 30 minutes. Average overtime stayed at 3.2 hours.

Durable goods manufacturing made up 20,000 of July’s new jobs. The smaller nondurable goods sector added the 7,000 remaining new manufacturing jobs. The average hourly wage at a nonfarm job rose 11 cents to $30.54 in July while the average hourly manufacturing wage rose 15 cents to $29.77. Wages in durable goods production rose by 16 cents and in nondurable goods by 13 cents, likely reflecting the difficulty many in manufacturing now say they face in a time of labor shortages.

Read more at IndustryWeek


US COVID Update – New U.S. COVID Cases Soar 139%

The Delta COVID variant is fueling a massive pandemic resurgence as some governments and employers launch new measures to combat it. These measures, including big cities reinstating mask mandates and employers requiring vaccines, come as more Americans test positive for COVID-19, according to a Fortune analysis of New York Times data. As of Tuesday, Aug. 3, the average number of new daily cases over the past week was 92,005—levels not seen since February, before COVID vaccines were widely available in the U.S.—and up 139% from two weeks ago.

The surging infection is most dangerous where vaccination rates are lower, because the unvaccinated are more likely to become severely ill. The U.S. this week finally hit President Joe Biden’s goal of at least 70% of U.S. adults getting at least one COVID-19 shot—a month after his deadline. 

Read more at Fortune and visit their COVID tracker


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Wednesday August4th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 64.1% of all New Yorkers – 12,334,441 (plus 29,259 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,309,080 (plus 2,471) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.7% of all New Yorkers – 11,227,221 are fully vaccinated (Plus 15,601)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,176,019 (plus 1,388) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday August 3rd.  There were 11 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,139.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,162

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.91%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.88%

Useful Websites:


Pfizer BioNTech Full FDA Approval Update

With the number of new COVID-19 cases surging in the US, the US FDA reportedly has taken an “all-hands-on-deck approach” to reviewing data on Pfizer-BioNTech’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, aiming to grant full approval by September 6 or possibly sooner. However, some agency and White House officials hope the timetable will be accelerated further, with approval coming as soon as August 15, several sources shared.

The pace of vaccination has largely stalled in the US. In an August 4 statement, an FDA spokesperson said the agency’s full approval of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines could engender additional confidence among some people and encourage them to get vaccinated. A June poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 3 in 10 unvaccinated adults said they would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the vaccines currently being used under emergency use authorization received full approval.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for health Security


U.S. Developing Plan to Require Foreign Visitors to be Vaccinated

The Biden administration is developing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of eventually lifting travel restrictions that bar much of the world from entering the United States. The extraordinary U.S. travel restrictions were first imposed on China in January 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19. Numerous other countries have been added, most recently India in May.

The White House wants to re-open travel, which would boost business for the airlines and tourism industry, but is not ready to immediately lift restrictions because of the rising COVID-19 case load and highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, the official said.

Read more at Reuters


Economy Adds Back 943,000 Job, Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.4%

U.S. employers added back more jobs than expected last month, with payroll gains moving in tandem with improving economic activity and consumer mobility during the recovery. The jobless rate also fell to the lowest level since March 2020, improving more than expected. The U.S. Labor Department released its July jobs report Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET. 

  • Change in non-farm payrolls: +943,000 vs. +865,000 expected and a revised +938,000 in June.
  • Unemployment rate: 5.4% vs. 5.7% expected and 5.9% in June.
  • Average hourly earnings, month-on-month: 0.4% vs. 0.3% expected and a revised 0.4% in June.
  • Average hourly earnings, year-on-year: 4.0% vs. 3.9% expected and a revised 3.7% in June.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


385,000 Americans Filed New Unemployment Claims Last Week

New weekly jobless claims dipped last week to come in near consensus estimates, trending down but still coming in well above pre-pandemic levels as the labor market’s recovery trudges forward. Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended July 31: 385,000 vs. 383,000 expected and a revised 399,000 during prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended July 24: 2.930 million vs. 3.255 million expected and a revised 3.296 million during prior week.

Read more at Yahoo Finance


Longtime AFL-CIO Labor Union President Richard Trumka dies at 72

Richard Trumka, the powerful president of the AFL-CIO labor union, has died at age 72, Democratic leaders said Thursday.

A longtime labor leader, Trumka was elected in 1982 at age 33 as the youngest president of the United Mine Workers of America. As AFL-CIO president, he ushered in a more aggressive style of leadership and vowed to revive unions’ sagging membership rolls and pledged to make the labor movement appeal to a new generation of workers who perceive unions as “only a grainy, faded picture from another time.”

Read more at USA Today


Education Department Announces ‘Final Extension’ Of Student Loan Payment Freeze

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that federal student loan payments will remain on pause through the end of January. Before Friday’s announcement of the Jan. 31 extension, payments were set to resume in October. The Education Department called this latest extension the final one.

Loan payments, interest accruals and collections of defaulted federal student loans have all been on hold since the start of the pandemic — first thanks to the CARES Act, then due to extensions from former President Donald Trump, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Biden.

Read more at NPR


Just What is a COVID Passport?

IMMUNITY PASSPORTS are nothing new. The World Health Organization’s International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, commonly known as the Yellow Card, was first issued in 1951. Although the word “passport” implies that these documents will be required for international travel, most are for domestic use. Dozens of countries now require digital health certificates for access to certain services.

These commonly use a scannable file which can verify the holder’s identity and whether they have built up immunity to covid-19 through vaccination or recovery from infection. Some systems include negative test results or medical exemptions as alternatives. (Paper versions should also be available to those without smartphones.) These passes are intended to make congregating safer and in some cases also to spur people to get jabbed. Many people see their use as a short-term inconvenience that will allow them more freedom. But critics argue that they threaten civil liberties. Concerns include the leaking or misuse of data, and resentment about the pressure to get vaccinated or share medical information.

Read more at the Economist


How Will the Pandemic End? The Science of Past Outbreaks Offers Clues

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. After 17 grueling and chaotic months, weary people are wondering: When will the pandemic finally end?

When the worldwide spread of a disease is brought under control in a localized area, it’s no longer a pandemic but an epidemic, according to the WHO. If COVID-19 persists globally at what the WHO judges to be “expected or normal levels,” the organization will then re-designate the disease “endemic.” At that stage, SARS-CoV-2 will become a circulating virus that’s “less consequential as we build immunity,” says Saad Omer, an epidemiologist and director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. Only two diseases in recorded history that affect humans or other animals have ever been eradicated: smallpox, a life-threatening disease for people that covers bodies in painful blisters, and rinderpest, a viral malady that infected and killed cattle. 

Read more at NatGeo


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 353

NAM Pushes for Historic Infrastructure Investment

The Senate’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill mirrors many of the NAM’s priorities. Many of the bill’s provisions are included in the NAM’s Building to Win infrastructure plan. The bill contains provisions in five broad areas that are critical to manufacturers:

  • Increased infrastructure investment like upgrading roads and rail and bridging the digital divide.
  • Smart policies to speed up projects like sustainable permitting.
  • Actions to tackle climate change like grid modernization, carbon capture and clean hydrogen investment.
  • Efforts to create cleaner communities through investments in drinking water and efficient manufacturing.
  • The retention of competitive tax gains that have helped manufacturers create jobs and invest in their businesses across the country.

Throughout the day yesterday, the NAM is encouraged organizations and company leaders to take to social media channels to demonstrate their support for the infrastructure bill.

Click here the top NAM priorities included in the bill.


Cuomo Update –  Widespread Calls for Resignation, Albany County Criminal Investigation

Leaders of both Political Parties called on Governor Cuomo to resign after the release of a report from New York Attorney General Laticia James supporting allegations from 11 women against Cuomo and finding them to be credible. 

Albany County District Attorney David Soares confirmed Tuesday that his office is opening a criminal investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “It’s pretty clear that we have an obligation here, and thus we reached out to the attorney general’s office seeking all the evidence upon which they uncovered and relied upon to offer their report.”


Automakers, Microsoft Respond to  CDC Guidance with New Mandates

Roughly a week after the Centers for Disease Control updated its mask-wearing recommendations, manufacturers are again looking seriously at COVID-19 prevention tactics, including vaccine mandates. Microsoft is now the second major U.S. manufacturer to issue a mandate for employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines after Tyson Foods.

Other companies, including the three largest U.S. automotive manufacturers, are returning to previously-paused mask mandates. The COVID-19 Joint Task Force, made up of representatives from the United Auto Workers, General Motors, Ford Motors, and Stellantis, announced Tuesday that employees at those companies would have to wear face masks at all plants, offices and warehouses starting August 4, even vaccinated employees.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Two Strategies to Rebound from Pandemic Supply Chain Impacts

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains have forced organizations to reevaluate the way they obtain the products necessary for the survival of their business. Near-shoring is one method of addressing insecurity over the reliability of supply chains. Companies in the U.S. are looking to relocate some manufacturing to Mexico or Canada to avoid being cut off. This may lead to higher prices but would protect the industries from sudden shortages.

Automation in the shipping industry is another trend that will increase post-pandemic. Speeding up the rate at which products are transported is one benefit of automation. Another is the ability to keep track of shipping containers, so they are used more efficiently and do not sit idle while products wait to be transported.

Read more at Material Handling and Logistics


US COVID Update – Daily Mortality, Hospitalizations and Cases

Despite considerable vaccination coverage at the national level, daily incidence continues to accelerate, mirroring the early stages of previous surges. At 72,790 reported cases per day on July 30, the current surge is the United States’ second largest to date, surpassing both the spring 2020 and spring 2021 peaks. The average daily incidence is the highest since February 17.  

Daily mortality also continues to increase, up to 302 deaths per day on July 30, which is 76% higher than the most recent low on July 10 (172). Daily mortality does not appear to be increasing exponentially like daily incidence; however, this could change over the coming weeks as daily incidence increases.

Read more at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Wednesday August4th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 63.4% of all New Yorkers – 12,1204,784 (plus 29,196 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,296,384 (plus 3,393) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.3% of all New Yorkers – 11,155,323 are fully vaccinated (Plus 16,067)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,169,142 (plus 2,020) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Tuesday August 3rd.  There were 7 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,105.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 902

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.70%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.60%

Useful Websites:


Delta Waves in India and the U.K. Have Already Receded. Could the Same Happen in the U.S.?

Fortune reporters Grady McGregor, Biman Mukherji and Sophie Mellor report in this deep piece, that we still don’t know why the Delta-fueled waves in the U.K. and India suddenly dropped off. So, while everyone obviously hopes the same will happen in the U.S., nobody really knows if the country will be so lucky.

Read more at Fortune


Covid-19 Hospitalizations are Crashing Into Patients Returning for Care Previously Delayed

Surgeries and treatments for cancer, heart disease and other common conditions have rebounded this year, filling beds at many hospitals. At the same time, other respiratory viruses, such as RSV, have re-emerged along with public gatherings, adding to hospital strain.

Now some hospitals are treating more Covid-19 patients than ever before as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads, particularly where vaccination rates are lower. This new chapter of the protracted pandemic has exhausted hospital staff.

Read more at the WSJ


Here’s What We Know About COVID Booster Shots Now

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent study shows that vaccinated people can both contract the highly contagious delta variant and spread it. According to a widely reported internal CDC memo, the delta variant spreads as easily as chicken pox, which is considered more contagious than the flu and less contagious than measles. 

To prepare for the possibility of a booster shot, the CDC said it’s weighing a third vaccine dose for people with compromised immune systems. 

Read more at c|net


CDC Issues New Eviction Moratorium

Days after a national eviction moratorium expired, the Biden administration on Tuesday issued a new, more limited freeze that remains in effect through Oct. 3. the two-month moratorium issued Tuesday comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new ban covers parts of the United States that are experiencing “substantial” and “high” spread of the coronavirus. As of Tuesday afternoon, that’s the vast majority of U.S. counties.

The administration previously said it didn’t have the legal authority to issue a such a measure. The new order could face legal challenges.

Read more at NPR


ADP: Private Companies Added Just 330,000 Jobs in July, Short of the 653,000 Estimate

Job creation at private companies tumbled in July as fears mounted over the spreading Covid-19 delta variant, payroll processing firm ADP reported Wednesday. July’s job growth was also the smallest gain since February.

Employers added 330,000 positions for the month, a sharp deceleration from the downwardly revised 680,000 in June. It’s also well below the 653,000 Dow Jones estimate. June’s final total fell from the initial estimate of 692,000. Goods-producing industries contributed 12,000 to the total, with manufacturing up 8,000.

Read more at CNBC


What if Closing the Wage Gap Means Everyone Earns Less?

Companies, including Whole Foods, Starbucks, and the social media tool Buffer, have been touting their pay transparency policies as a means of ensuring fairness. But, as it turns out, pay transparency doesn’t necessarily increase workers’ wages.

Among more than 4 million people living in states with new transparency laws between 2000 and 2016. They found that a year after these laws were passed, wages dropped by 2.2 percent, and, three years following the change, they declined by 2.6 percent. The reason?  The researchers note that managers who disclose salaries can credibly say to employees seeking a raise: “If I give you a higher salary, I will have to give everyone else a raise, too, and I just can’t afford that.” 

Read more at Harvard Business School


GM Misses But Raises Guidance

General Motors on Wednesday missed Wall Street’s earnings expectations for the second quarter despite a record operating profit. It also raised its guidance for the year.  GM’s second-quarter earnings were dragged down by some $1.3 billion in warranty recall costs, including $800 million related to the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The electric vehicle has been recalled twice in the past year due to fire risks, most recently last month. 

The automaker raised its adjusted full-year guidance to between $11.5 billion and $13.5 billion, or $5.40 to $6.40 a share, up from $10 billion to $11 billion, or $4.50 to $5.25 a share.

Read more at CNBC


JPMorgan Chase’s Dimon: “Celebrate the Growth”

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon argued that “We should celebrate the growth. We should celebrate the fact that we can grow at 6%, 7% and God knows in the next year,” in and interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo.  Gross domestic product grew at a 6.5% annual rate during the second quarter, according to an advance estimate released last week by the Commerce Department.

Dimon explained further that he believes interest rates are still low even as the economy is recovering “mostly because central banks around the world have bought $12 trillion of bonds.” He then explained the positive and negative outcomes of that policy. 

Read more at Fox Business


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 352

Infrastructure Bill Heads to Final Stretch in the Senate

The ten senators who negotiated the physical infrastructure deal are vowing to collectively block any effort that would endanger the bill’s odds of reaching President Joe Biden’s desk. The chamber is kicking off a lengthy debate on proposed amendments to the gang’s work, which would spend $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, broadband and climate resiliency.

While the upper chamber’s leaders and negotiators call for a robust amendment process, the bipartisan alliance is also telegraphing that it would fight off any amendments significant enough to torpedo weeks of negotiation.

Read more at Politico


COVID Troubled Tyson Foods to Mandate Vaccines for US Workforce

Tyson Foods, Inc., announced new requirements yesterday that office employees be fully vaccinated by October 1. Full vaccinations for other employees that aren’t represented by unions must be fully vaccinated by November 1, and new hires must be fully vaccinated before they begin work.

The move makes Tyson Foods one of the first major manufacturers and first large food company to require its employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. According to Tyson, less than half of its workforce has been vaccinated. The mandate will exempt workers who cite medical or religious exceptions.

Read more at Industry Week


She Said – Renewed Calls for Resignation as NY AG Report Finds Governor Cuomo Sexually Harassed Women

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former government workers, breaking state and federal laws and engaging in a pattern of unwanted touching and inappropriate comments, according to a much anticipated report from the New York State attorney general, Letitia James, released on Tuesday.

The 165-page report  included at least two previously unreported allegations of sexual harassment from women who accused Mr. Cuomo of improperly touching them, including an unnamed female state trooper and an employee of an energy company. And it highlighted at least one instance in which Mr. Cuomo and his aides retaliated against one of the women who made her allegations public.

Read more at the New York Times


He Said – Cuomo Denies State Investigation Findings He Sexually Harassed Multiple Women

Despite increasing calls for him to resign, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday rejected the findings of an investigation from the state attorney general that found the Democratic governor had sexually harassed multiple women.

In a video statement released two hours later, Cuomo said, “The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” and painted himself as a champion of sexual assault victims, apologizing to Charlotte Bennett, one of his accusers, who the governor said he was trying to help. Cuomo said there were cultural and generational differences in how his behavior was received, and added he would institute new sexual harassment policies for the state.

Read More at Yahoo News


US COVID Update – Louisiana and San Francisco Area to Reinstate Indoor Mask Mandates

Louisiana and seven San Francisco Bay Area counties will mandate that people wear masks indoors starting this week, while New York City officials are recommending that residents do so to curb rising Covid-19 cases. Masks will be required starting Yesterday.  About half of Californians will be required to wear face coverings indoors in public settings.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all people in counties with high or substantial transmission of the virus to wear masks in indoor public settings. That announcement came as health officials said they had found vaccinated people can transmit the more contagious Delta variant, which is driving much of the recent increase in Covid-19 cases.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Tuesday August 3rd:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 63.3% of all New Yorkers – 12,175,588 (plus 20,362 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,292,991 (plus 2,915) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.3% of all New Yorkers – 11,139,256 are fully vaccinated (Plus 12,913)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,167,122 (plus 1,873) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Monday August 2nd.  There were 5 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,098.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 852

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.65%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.40%

Useful Websites:


Goal – Delta Pushes 70% of U.S. Adults (Biden’s July 4th Goal) to Get One Vaccine Dose

The U.S. has finally reached—a month late—President Biden’s goal of 70% of adults getting at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. The milestone comes amid the Delta surge, which has led many cities and states to reinstate pandemic precautions.

There was was no celebration at the White House on Monday, nor a setting of a new target, as the administration instead struggles to overcome skepticism and outright hostility to the vaccine, especially in the South and other rural and conservative areas.

Read more at Fortune


U.S. Has Shared 110 Million Covid-19 Vaccine Doses Overseas

President Biden’s administration has shipped more than 110 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to 65 countries, the White House said, as it works to share supply with the rest of the world following regulatory and logistical setbacks.

The figures come about a month behind the White House’s June goal of delivering 80 million doses overseas, part of a greater vaccine-donation drive by the U.S. in the coming months.

Read more at the WSJ


Mask Mandates Return: Target, Walmart And Others Requiring Employees To Mask Up

Target said Monday all store employees will be required to wear masks in counties deemed high-risk for coronavirus transmission. The shift will not apply to customers, Target said, though it will encourage shoppers in those high-risk areas to wear face coverings as well.

Walmart and Sam’s Club announced a similar policy on Friday, saying the stores would require employees to mask up and urge shoppers to do the same by posting signs at store entrances and assigning employees to pass out face masks.

Read more at Forbes


New York City Will Require Vaccines For Restaurants

New York will become the first American city to require Covid-19 vaccinations for employees and visitors to set foot in restaurants, gyms and performance venues, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday morning, although the city will not enforce the mandate until mid-September.

People ages 12 and up will need to show proof that they have received at least one vaccine to enter the businesses beginning August 16. Businesses will be expected to check customers at the door, but the city will not begin enforcing the new rule until September 13. Excluding the unvaccinated from gyms, dining and shows “will inspire people to get vaccinated,” de Blasio said.

Read more at Forbes


SHRM Study Shows Remote Workers are Concerned About Losing Networking Opportunities 

Over the past few months, many of the surveys have shown that employees prefer working remotely and that some would even take a pay cut to stay remote. However, a new study, released on July 26 from SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) shows that’s not exactly the case. 

  • Sixty-seven percent of supervisors say they spend more time supervising remote workers than onsite workers.
  • Forty-two percent of supervisors say they sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks.
  • Thirty-four percent of remote workers say working remotely on a permanent basis would reduce the number of career opportunities available.
  • 67% of supervisors admit to considering remote workers more easily replaceable than onsite workers at their organization.
  • Twenty-nine percent of remote workers say they will have fewer developmental opportunities while working remotely.

Read more at EHS Today


Concerns in China Grow as Delta Outbreak Spreads

All 11m people in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where covid-19 was first detected, are to be tested for the disease after seven locally transmitted cases were recorded. At least 350 people in 27 Chinese cities have tested positive in the past ten days. Transport in Beijing has been closed down and 9.2m people in Nanjing have been tested three times.

It is unclear how many in China are fully vaccinated, although authorities say more than 1.6 billion doses have been administered so far.

Read more at the BBC


2021 IW U.S. 500: Top Manufacturing States (New York is tied for 5th)

Which states have the most manufacturing headquarters?  Here are the top 10 based on IndustryWeek’s annual list of the top 500 publicly held U.S. manufacturing companies based on revenue.    

(29 Headquarters) Manufacturers in New York account for 4.45% of the total output in the state, employing 4.51% of the workforce. Total output from manufacturing was $74.58 billion in 2018. In addition, there were an average of 441,000 manufacturing employees in New York in 2019, with an average annual compensation of $78,869.31 in 2018.

Read more at IndustryWeek


IMF Approves $650 Billion to Alleviate Pandemic Impact

he governing body of the International Monetary Fund has approved a $650 billion expansion in the agency’s resources to support economically vulnerable countries battling the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it has caused.

The general allocation of SDRs will become effective on Aug. 23. The IMF said that the new reserves will be credited to IMF member countries in proportion to their existing quotas with the agency. About $275 billion of the new allocation will go to the world’s poorer countries.

Read more at MarketWatch


Alternate Theory – Now There’s Worry the Chip Shortage Will Turn Into a Chip Glut

Analysts fear the current semiconductor shortage could turn into a semiconductor glut, due to actions governments are taking to increase supply. Lilian Li, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s: “These major investments could lead to overcapacity and inefficient investment allocation.”

“All the world’s advanced economies, including the U.S., the EU, South Korea, and China have set out plans to advance capacity in the domestic semiconductor industry.” 

Read more at Fortune


 

 

 

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Daily Briefing – 351

What Comes Next for the $1 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aims to rush the 2,702-page legislation through the chamber before a planned monthlong recess starting Aug. 9. Votes on amendments — or a decision by any senator to delay the process — could trip up the New York Democrat’s timeline. Schumer on Monday urged all 100 senators to agree to start the amendment process, warning the “longer it takes to finish the bill, the longer we’ll be here.” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, signaled he is in no rush to move toward a final vote on the legislation.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, signaled he is in no rush to move toward a final vote on the legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she will not take up either the infrastructure plan or budget measure until the Senate passes both of them, a strategy that has sparked criticism from Republicans.

Read more at CNBC


U.S. Manufacturing Growth Unexpectedly Slows Modestly In July

The pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly slowed in the month of July, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Monday. The ISM said its manufacturing PMI dipped to 59.5 in July from 60.6 in June. While a reading above 50 still indicates growth in the manufacturing sector, economists had expected the index to inch up to 60.9.

  • The production index slid to 58.4 in July from 60.8 in June.
  • The new orders index fell to 64.9 from 66.0.
  • The supplier deliveries index dropped to 72.5 in July from 75.1 in June.
  • The prices index also tumbled to 85.7 in July after reaching a more than forty-year high of 92.1 in June.
  • The employment index jumped to 52.9 in July from 49.9 in June, indicating a return to job growth in the manufacturing sector.

Read More at Business Insider


New Mask Mandates Cause Confusion

The most up-to-date guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was issued on July 30, revising its previous guidance issued just three days earlier. The advice is that everyone wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission, regardless of their vaccination status. 

The best advice coming from attorneys who specialize in employment law is: Keep up with the everchanging developments and remain as flexible as you can be in the face of changing circumstances. And remember OSHA’s Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace explicitly references the CDC guidance in its recommendations for employers.

Read more at EHS Today


COVID in NY: CDC Recommends Masks in These 23 Counties Where COVID is Spreading Fast

Indoor mask-wearing in public is recommended by the CDC in counties with substantial or high COVID transmission or test positivity rates. That means counties with at least 50 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population over the past seven days, or a COVID test positivity rate of 8% and above.

Daily figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Sunday showed 23 of New York’s 62 counties met the COVID-19 spread threshold where the CDC recommends people should mask up indoors.  Orange, Sullivan and Westchester are on the list. 


US COVID Update – CDC: Most COVID-19 Cases in Massachusetts Outbreak Among Vaccinated

Three-quarters of people infected with COVID-19 at July public events in a town on Cape Cod in Massachusetts were fully vaccinated. The CDC study found vaccinated individuals had a similar amount of virus presence as the unvaccinated, suggesting that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant could transmit the virus, the CDC said.

469 cases were found among Massachusetts residents from July 3 to 26 related to the Cape Code outbreak. Of those, 74% were among fully vaccinated people. The CDC said its study excluded residents of 22 other states. Barnstable County reported that as of July 30, 934 total cases had been associated with the outbreak. The CDC said that overall, 79% of the vaccinated individuals who were infected with COVID-19 also reported symptoms such as cough, headache, sore throat and fever. Four had to be hospitalized, the CDC said.

Read more at Reuters


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of  Monday August 2nd:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 63.2% of all New Yorkers – 12,155,226 (plus 18,619 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,290,076 (plus 1,416) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.2% of all New Yorkers – 11,126,343 are fully vaccinated (Plus 11,815)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,165,249 (plus816) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday August 1st.  There were 4 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,093.

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 788

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.53%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.34%

Useful Websites:


Plug-in Airborne COVID-19 Virus Detector Unveiled

Baltimore-based Opteev announced it has developed ViraWarn, which it says is the first-ever plug-in screening device that can detect airborne COVID-19 particles in real time in indoor spaces. Opteev is a joint development of Novatec Inc. and MachineSense LLC.

ViraWarn modules include air suction that complements a room’s existing airflow to move air through the ViraWarn detection chamber and analyzes the air to detect if a coronavirus is present. If a viral alert is triggered, a visual indication via an LED light and an audible alert immediately signal so that the room can be evacuated and disinfected in addition to having the occupants screened. A mobile app is also available for mobile notification alerts.

Read more at Plastics Machinery and Manufacturing


Walmart and Disney Join a Growing Group of Businesses Requiring Vaccines

On Friday, Walmart and the Walt Disney Company introduced new requirements that some employees be vaccinated. They followed similar announcements this past week from Google, Facebook, Uber and others.

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, with nearly 1.6 million workers, said vaccines would be mandatory for employees in its headquarters and for managers who traveled in the United States. The mandate does not apply to employees in stores, clubs, and distribution and fulfillment centers. Disney said salaried and nonunion hourly U.S. employees at its sites must be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated workers who are already on site will have 60 days to get the immunization, and new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated before starting work.

Read more at the New York Times


Caixin PMI: China’s July Factory Activity Growth Slips to 15-Month Low

China’s factory activity growth slipped sharply in July as demand contracted for the first time in over a year in part on high product prices, a business survey showed on Monday, underscoring challenges facing the world’s manufacturing hub. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.3 last month from 51.3 the month before, the lowest level since April 2020.

The Chinese economy has largely recovered from disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but it has faced new challenges in recent months such as higher raw material costs, which dragged on profit growth at industrial firms in June.

Read more at Reuters


HSBC Earnings Double

HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, reported that its profits more than doubled in the first half of 2021, year-on-year, to $10.8bn. It benefited as the economies of Britain and Hong Kong, its two biggest markets, sprang back. 

Like rivals, HSBC is benefiting from better-than-hoped for resilience on the part of companies grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, a decline in revenue underscored longer-term challenges.

Read more at Reuters


No End In Sight to Supply-Chain Snarls

The supply-chain challenges and the great debate over whether inflation will suffocate the economy are related. Many industrial companies are now on their third set of pandemic price increases in an effort to offset rising material costs and compensate for labor and freight-capacity constraints.

The seemingly never-ending pileup of supply-chain pileups has required both holistic solutions and on-the-spot creativity. Industrial manufacturers aren’t feeling the pinch of the semiconductor shortage quite as much as automakers, but certain kinds of industrial semiconductors are still hard to find through the normal channels. Demand for Honeywell’s box scanners has exploded alongside the boom in e-commerce, but some sensors that help power them are in short supply, for example. So the company has reworked the design to accommodate alternatively formatted chips. “

Read more at Bloomberg


The Fortune Global 500 List Illustrates the Industrial Narratives of Our Age

The Fortune Global 500 companies experienced an overall 5% drop in revenues in 2020, and aggregate profits were down 20%, which is the biggest decline since 2009.

  • Last year’s list contained six airlines; with their revenues down 60% in 2020, not a single one made the new list.
  • This is the second year in a row in which mainland China (including Hong Kong) has had more companies on the list than the U.S. 
  • Fossil fuel: Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, both of which ranked at No. 1 at least twice this century, each dropped to their lowest Global 500 rankings yet, at No. 23 and No. 19 respectively.
  • Saudi Aramco’s two-year reign as “most profitable” company is over, with the crown passing to Apple again.
  • Diversity: A year ago, there were 14 female CEOs of the Fortune Global 500. Now, the tally is 23, representing a rise of nearly two-thirds.

Read more at Fortune


Copper Strike Possible in Chile Could Impact Supply

The world’s biggest copper mine, the BHP-owned Escondida in Chile’s Atacama desert, may be hit with a strike soon. Workers, who want education benefits for their kids and a one-time bonus for their work during the pandemic, overwhelmingly approved the move in a vote that ended Saturday.

Escondida workers staged a 44-day strike in 2017, the longest in the history of Chilean mining. The strike caused $740 million in losses for the company. The workers are asking for a one-time bonus to recognize their work during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as education benefits for their children.

Read more at France 24


 

 

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