Auto Industry Chip Shortage Remains Critical
The prices of used cars are soaring across America. One index of second-hand values published by Manheim, a used-car auction business, has surged by 61% since last April. A shortage of new vehicles is one problem, thanks to the world’s worsening shortage of semiconductors, which is crimping production. In America alone, carmakers shed 27,000 jobs last month as plants short on chips ground to a halt.
Yesterday Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, met producers of vehicles and semiconductors to try and ease the logjam. The Biden administration also wants to spend $50bn to boost chip production at home to reduce reliance on imports. But it takes time to expand semiconductor production. The shortage could persist for years.
The Fed Hinted it Could Reconsider Easy Policies if Economy Continues Rapid Improvement
Federal Reserve officials at their April meeting said a strong pickup in economic activity would warrant discussions about tightening monetary policy, according to minutes from the session released Wednesday. “A number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee’s goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases,” the meeting summary said.
Markets have been watching closely for clues about when the central bank might start tapering its bond purchases, which currently are at least $120 billion a month.
US Weekly Jobless Claims Sink to New Pandemic Low
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 444,000, a new pandemic low and a sign that the job market keeps strengthening as consumers spend freely again, viral infections drop and business restrictions ease. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that applications declined 34,000 from a revised 478,000 a week earlier.
The claims numbers suggest that employment is growing consistently. However, continuing claims edged higher, rising to 3.75 million, an increase of 111,000. Continuing.
21 States Dropping $300-A-Week Federal Unemployment Benefits
At least 21 states—all with Republican governors—are set to stop participating in the federal government’s supplemental unemployment benefits program, which provides an extra $300 a week to the jobless, as many Republican officials are claiming the payments disincentivize workers to get back on the job.
At a news conference earlier this month, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said it was “not clear” whether federal unemployment benefits were causing a labor shortage. But, in any case, Powell said that won’t be a factor for much longer because he expects the federal government will not extend payments past September.
US Vaccine Rollout – 20 States Have Vaccinated More Than 50% of Adults
Over the past week, the number of individuals who have received at least one COVID vaccine increased to 159.2 million Americans according to data. Many of those newly vaccinated individuals are adolescents who became eligible for the shot last Thursday. In total, 47.9% of the population and more than 60% of adults in the U.S. have gotten one dose. Of those, 125.5 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 73% of seniors, 47.9% of adults, and 37.8% of the total population.
Overall, the nation has administered 277.3 million doses of the 349 million delivered. The vast majority of vaccines administered to individuals have been mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna; only 9.8 million individuals have received the Johnson & Johnson shot.
NYS Vaccine Update – 62% of Adult New Yorkers and 51% of All Eligible New Yorkers Have Received at Least One COVID-19 Vaccine Dose
As of Thursday morning 10,174,323 (plus 94,412 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 8,4561,321 are fully vaccinated (Plus 87,474). In the Hudson Valley 1,084,136 (plus 11,393) have at least one dose and 898,706 (plus 9,005) are fully vaccinated.
NYS COVID Update
The Governor updated COVID data through Wednesday May 19th. There were 18 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,542. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,490
- Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 124
ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)
- Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 3,960
- Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 383
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 1.02%
- Mid-Hudson: 0.91%
- Read the press release
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
NYS Upstate United Single Payer Fact Sheet
In their latest “Troubling Trends” fact sheet, Upstate United highlights the impacts of the New York Health Act. This extreme proposal would make private health insurance illegal and replace it with a one-size-fits-all program run by New York State government. According to the fact sheet the proposal would also lead to significant tax increases, widespread job losses and long wait times for health care consumers.
Ports on U.S. West Coast Race to Clear Ship Backlog by August
The Port of Los Angeles handled 946,966 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in April, a spike of 37% compared to last year. It was the best April in the Port’s 114-year history, and the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year increases. Four months into the year, overall cargo volume has increased 42% compared to 2020. Since January, the Port of Los Angeles has processed 3,539,397 TEUs.
“Fewer ships are going straight to anchor, and of those that do, the wait time is decreasing as our labor force and supply chain partners adeptly handle the steady stream of cargo on our docks,” Seroka added. “This volume surge has resulted in additional work opportunities for dockworkers, truckers, warehouse employees and others.”
Senator Borrello Introduces Bill to End Extended Unemployment Benefits
The Bill “Directs the governor to withdraw from the federal pandemic unemployment compensation program and the mixed earner unemployment compensation program and to notify anyone who is receiving benefits through theseprograms that the benefits will end on the date of withdrawal.”
The Bill has little chance of advancing.
Column: 5 Ways to Strengthen US Manufacturing
Any effort to strengthen US manufacturing and make it more competitive should include upskilling, new technology and equipment upgrades, among other steps, write Katy George and Eric Chewning of McKinsey. “The most successful manufacturing companies have defined learning journeys for different roles, and encourage employees to go above and beyond those journeys through continuous learning and exploration of areas of interest,” they write.
India’s Covid-19 Daily Death Toll Hits World’s High
On Wednesday, India reported 4,529 deaths in the past 24 hours, topping the previous high set by the U.S. on Jan. 12, when it recorded 4,475 deaths. It was the ninth time this month that India has recorded more than 4,000 deaths in a single day.
The rising death toll comes following a surge in cases that rose faster than any the world had previously seen, overwhelming the country’s healthcare system, with hospitals turning patients away and running short of beds, oxygen and Covid-19 medications.
European Union Set to Open Borders to Vaccinated Travelers
The European Union took a step toward opening its borders to vaccinated tourists, a move that likely means Americans and other non-Europeans will be allowed to visit the continent this summer. The decision, taken Wednesday by ambassadors from the 27 EU member countries, must still be formally approved by national leaders, which could come as soon as tomorrow.
It isn’t yet clear exactly when tourists will be allowed to arrive, but it is expected to be very soon, an EU spokesman said. The U.S. would need to be added to a list of countries from which nonessential travel to the EU is permitted. When that might happen is unclear, but the spokesman said the listed countries could be changed quickly if government leaders decide on it.
MTA Advances Project to Bring Metro-North Service to Penn Station
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that it has published the Environmental Assessment for its Metro-North Penn Station Access Project, which will bring Metro-North service to the west side commuter hub and add four new stations in the Bronx.
“To be able to expand to another part of the Bronx and to help our customers more easily reach the west side of Manhattan and other employment destinations in the region is a major development and incredibly exciting for us,” said Catherine Rinaldi, president of Metro-North Railroad. “This project will give the East Bronx and all of our customers better transit options which translates to more economic and social opportunities for all.”
The Tokyo Olympics Are “Safe and Secure”, Insist Japanese Politicians
The Olympics are scheduled to kick off in two months. About 15,000 athletes and perhaps 90,000 hangers-on from some 200 countries are set to enter Japan. Many Japanese worry that they will be the losers: 60% would rather not hold the games at all.
Organizers insist the Tokyo Olympics can be held safely. They point to recent virus-free sporting events, such as the Masters, an American golf tournament. They aim to create bubbles around the Olympic village and competition sites, to isolate participants from locals. Though vaccination will not be mandatory for athletes, Mr Bach claims that 80% of those in the Olympic village will be vaccinated by the start of the games. Foreign spectators will not be allowed to attend. A decision on local spectators is expected in June.