PPI 6.2 % – U.S. Producer Prices Top Forecasts, Adding to Inflation Pressure
The Producer Price Index rose 0.6% from March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Year over year, the PPI spiked 6.2%, the largest increase since the agency started tracking the data in 2010.
The core PPI, which excludes volatile items like foods, energy and trade services, rose 0.7% in April from the previous month and jumped 4.6% year over year. The increase from a year ago was the biggest jump since 2014 when the department first calculated the data.
CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Can Largely Ditch Masks Indoors
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places. The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds. The announcement comes as the CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people — people who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot.
Council Webinar TODAY, May 14th, With JPMorgan Chase Economist James Glassman
Inflation, Labor Shortages, Infrastructure, Supply Chains: Join us Friday afternoon for a discussion of these issues and how they will affect your business with JPMorgan Chase’s Jim Glassman, Managing Director and Head Economist for Commercial Banking.
Jim’s work with the firm—combined with his independent research on the principal forces shaping the economy and financial markets—has earned him regular features in the media and as an economic commentator. He is also a long-standing participant in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters and the National Association of Business Economists’ (NABE) panel of macroeconomic forecasters.
Jobless Claims: Initial Filings Dipped to a Pandemic Era Low, Continuing Claims Remain High
Initial unemployment claims dropped more than expected to a fresh pandemic-era low, with new filings inching back toward pre-pandemic levels as more vaccinated Americans return to work and in-person activities.
Here were the main metrics expected from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:
- Initial jobless claims, week ended May 8: 473,000 vs. 490,000 expected and an upwardly revised 507,000 during prior week
- Continuing claims, week ended May 1: 3.655 million vs. 3.650 million expected and an upwardly revised 3.700 million during prior week
US Vaccine Rollout – Pace Improves, Averaging 2.2 Million Shots Per Day
After weeks of declines, the U.S. pace of daily vaccinations is improving in recent days. The country is reporting an average of 2.2 million shots per day over the past week, federal data shows, up slightly from the most recent low reported Saturday, when it dipped below 2 million for the first time since early March.
While too early to say whether this recent uptick will turn into a steady trend, the data does show an increase in reported first doses, indicating that new people are entering a vaccination program.
NYS Vaccine Update
As of Thursday morning 9,771,045 (plus 37,577 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,053,696 are fully vaccinated (Plus 80,787). In the Hudson Valley 1,034,645 (plus 3,740) have at least one dose and 837,586 (plus 9,034) are fully vaccinated.
NYS COVID Update –
The Governor updated COVID data through Wednesday May 12th. There were 22 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,389. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,852
- Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 156
ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)
- Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,947
- Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 385
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 1.25%
- Mid-Hudson: 1.16%
- Read the press release
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
Biden ‘Encouraged’ – Biden’s Meeting with Congressional Leaders on Infrastructure
President Biden on Wednesday said he was “encouraged” about the prospects of an infrastructure deal after meeting with top congressional leaders, even as he acknowledged the two parties remain at odds on how to finance a package. The issue of how to pay for the eventual package remains one of the biggest roadblocks to getting an infrastructure deal done. Still, Biden has remained optimistic even as the White House says it wants to see progress by Memorial Day.
Republican leaders say they told President Joe Biden on Wednesday that they’re drawing a “red line” on hiking certain taxes to fund the President’s infrastructure spending proposal, an anticipated hurdle that has arisen during a crucial week for the White House’s infrastructure priorities.
Business Leaders Push for Infrastructure Deal, Minus the Corporate Tax Hikes
In private talks with dozens of business leaders, Biden administration officials are pitching the president’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal as an investment they will benefit from, emphasizing support for new job-training programs as much as better roads, officials and executives say.
Some have suggested alternative ways to fund infrastructure projects, while others haven’t offered specifics. Several executives and business groups have said they are eager for Mr. Biden to fulfill a pledge to seek compromise with Republican lawmakers—some of whom have proposed a narrower infrastructure package funded by gas taxes and other user fees, not corporate tax increases. Several Senate Republicans are meeting with Mr. Biden at the White House on Thursday to explore a possible deal.
Companies Are Increasing Mental Health Benefits
As one of the largest U.S. employers at 1.5 million, Walmart often sets the stage for policies, both in terms of business processes and workforce strategies. In the area of mental well-being, Walmart announced May 5 that it has expanded its mental health benefits by more than tripling (from three sessions per year to 10 sessions) the number of no-cost counseling sessions that will be available to U.S. associates and their families.
The “emotional well-being” benefit, as the company calls it, includes help dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, grief, personal and professional relationships, family conflict, substance abuse, coping with change, parenting and more.
Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2020
For the 10th consecutive year, the most frequently cited violation of OSHA standards is fall protection, indicating that despite all of the protocols, procedures and equipment in place to protect workers from falls, this is still a major workplace issue.
In its reveal of the top 10 safety violations of 2020 (which for OSHA’s fiscal year encompasses October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020), the agency noted that while the order these standards appear on the list changed somewhat since the previous year, it’s the same 10 from 2019, according to Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs.
Disney Results Offer Early Snapshot of Post-Covid Behavior
For the past 14 months, stay-at-home orders and closed entertainment venues lifted Disney’s streaming services to new heights. Disney+ in March passed the 100 million subscriber mark after just 16 months of operation, cementing its status as the most successful streaming entrant since Netflix Inc. defined the field years ago. But last month, Netflix reported slower-than-expected growth in subscribers, as consumers headed out of the house—a vulnerability facing Disney as well.
Disney’s quarterly earnings have lately provided a glimpse of a company at a crossroads. Covid-19 immediately shut down two of its core businesses—parks and movies—but also accelerated focus and investment toward streaming services seen by Wall Street as critical to its post-pandemic future. Good news about its streaming growth kept the stock price soaring despite steep losses seen in other divisions. However, summer travel and pent-up demand for live events could depress sign-ups at Disney+ and its other services in the months ahead.
US Asks Mexico to Probe GM Union Vote
The United States formally requested that Mexico investigate allegations of wrongdoing in a union vote at a General Motors factory, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Wednesday. The request marks the first time any country has invoked a provision of the United States-Medico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and concerns a worker vote last month on whether to continue to recognize the union, an affiliate of the Confederation of Mexican Workers. The Mexican government previously suspended the election following allegations the union destroyed unfavorable ballots and committed other chicanery.
GM said it would cooperate with both the US and Mexican governments on the probe. “GM condemns violations of labor rights and actions to restrict collective bargaining,” a spokeswoman said. “We do not believe there was any GM involvement in the alleged violations and have retained a third-party firm to conduct an independent and thorough review.”