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Daily Briefing – 321

Post: Jun. 8, 2021

Job Openings Jump to Fresh Record High of 9.3 Million

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

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

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

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

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

Justice Department Recovers Majority of Colonial Pipeline Ransom

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

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

Read more at Yahoo News

Bitcoin Slides 7% On the DOJ Colonial Pipeline News 

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

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

Read more at CNBC

US COVID Update -Vaccine Pace Slows

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

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

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update – Low Positivity Trend Continues

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

Vaccine Stats as of Tuesday morning:

One Vaccine Dose

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

Fully Vaccinated

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

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


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 796

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 0.51%
  • Mid-Hudson: 0.45%

Useful Websites:

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

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

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

Read more at the WSJ

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

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

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

Read more at Yahoo Finance

Volvo Truck Workers Resume Strike After Rejecting Second Agreement

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

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

Read more at IndustryWeek

GM chip-shifting strategy expected to boost profits

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

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

Read more at Reuters

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

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

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

Read more at Taiwan News

US Trade Deficit Dips to $68.9 Billion, Exports Up

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

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

Read more at the AP