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Daily Briefing – 350

Post: Aug. 1, 2021

Commerce Department Report: Personal Spending, Wages, Inflation Up in June

U.S. households boosted spending by 1% in June as consumers shelled out more on services at the start of the summer. Friday’s report showed that the core personal-consumption expenditures price index–a measure of inflation that excludes often-volatile prices for food and energy–was up 3.5% in June from a year ago, compared with a 3.4% yearly increase in May.

Personal-consumption expenditures–a measure of household spending on goods and services–increased last month, the Commerce Department reported Friday, beating economists’ expectations for a 0.7% rise. That followed a downwardly revised 0.1% drop in May, when consumers pulled back on purchases of goods but boosted spending on services.

Read more at MarketWatch

Here’s What’s in the $550 Billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

After weeks of haggling behind closed doors, a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday finally reached an agreement on the key details of a sweeping infrastructure bill that will include $550 billion in new spending.  The legislation would pour federal money into physical infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, passenger rails, drinking water and waste water systems, as well as expanding high-speed internet and climate-related infrastructure. The White House says the investments will add an average 2 million jobs per year as part of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Significant details are unknown about the bill, which has yet to be released in full — especially regarding its offsets. Here’s what we know so far, according to a fact sheet from the White House.

Read more at CNBC

U.S. GDP Trails Forecast Up 6.5%

Growth in U.S. economic activity accelerated only slightly in the second quarter compared to the first, disappointing economists expecting that the lingering effects of fiscal and monetary stimulus and strong consumer and business demand would fuel further growth. 

  • Q2 GDP, seasonally adjusted annualized quarter-over-quarter: 6.5% vs. 8.4% expected and a downwardly revised 6.3% in Q1
  • Personal consumption: 11.8% vs. 10.5% expected and 11.4% in Q1
  • Core personal consumption expenditures, quarter-over-quarter: 6.0% vs. 6.1% expected and an upwardly revised 2.7% in Q1

Read more at Yahoo Finance

SBA Announces Opening of Paycheck Protection Program Direct Forgiveness Portal

The  U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is launching a streamlined application portal to allow borrowers with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans $150,000 or less through participating lenders to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA.  
“The vast majority of businesses waiting for forgiveness have loans under $150,000. These entrepreneurs are busy running their businesses and are challenged by an overly complicated forgiveness process. We need to deliver forgiveness more efficiently so they can get back to enlivening our Main Streets, sustaining our neighborhoods and fueling our nation’s economy.” said Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.

Read more at the SBA

US COVID Update – Delta Force

Last Thursday the US CDC reported 34.7 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 609,853 deaths. Daily incidence continues to increase, now up to 66,606 new cases per day, which is nearly 6 times the most recent low on June 19 (11,469) and is still increasing steadily. Daily mortality also continues to increase, up to 296 deaths per day, which is 78% higher than the most recent low on July 10 (166).

Daily vaccinations are increasing slowly, now up to 513,685 doses per day. A total of 189.9 million individuals in the US have received at least 1 dose, equivalent to 57.2% of the entire US population. Among adults, 69.4% have received at least 1 dose, as well as 10.5 million adolescents aged 12-17 years. A total of 163.9 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 49.4% of the total population. Approximately 60.3% of adults are fully vaccinated, as well as 8.1 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 1st:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 63.1% of all New Yorkers – 12,0136,607 (plus 26,053 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,288,660 (plus 2,191) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 57.1% of all New Yorkers – 11,114,528 are fully vaccinated (Plus 16,531)
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,164,433 (plus 1,268) are fully vaccinated. 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Saturday July 31st.  There were 9 COVID related deaths for a total of 43,089.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 738

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.40%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.28%

Useful Websites:

Growing Numbers of People are Getting Vaccinated in Areas Hit Hard by the Delta Variant

Growing numbers of people are getting vaccinated in areas hit hard by the Delta variant, offering a glimmer of hope but still falling far short of what is needed to fight Covid-19, public-health officials say. In the U.S. as a whole, 50% of the population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day average of daily doses climbed to about 535,000 on July 27, compared with a recent low of around 431,000 on July 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Several factors are driving the increase in vaccinations, including worries about the infectiousness and severity of the Delta variant, growing confidence in the safety of vaccines and the influence of family and friends, health officials and residents say. More employers are implementing vaccine mandates, including a Walmart Inc. requirement for corporate staff announced Friday.

Read more at the WSJ

Bond Schoeneck & King: Vaccine Mandates Clear Key Legal Hurdle

Since the first COVID-19 vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in December, many businesses have wrestled with whether to impose vaccine mandates for their employees. This is a difficult question, with many considerations, including whether such a requirement is necessary or practical. Perhaps the most significant consideration, with which businesses and lawyers have struggled, is whether such a requirement is “legal.”

Last Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice issued an opinion letter that appears to remove one of the most significant legal roadblocks to employer vaccine mandates.

Read more at BSK

Government Workers Face Vaccine Mandate or Weekly Testing

President Biden on Thursday directed more than 2 million civilian workers and contractors to become “vaccination ambassadors” for the rest of the country, requiring them to get inoculated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing.

The president turned to mandates because scientists are now worried about the risks of delta-strain infection among Americans who got fully vaccinated this year and hoped they were home free. He also Directed the Defense Department to study how and when to add coronavirus inoculations to vaccinations required for all members of the U.S. military;  Called on states, U.S. territories and local governments to pay $100 incentives to those who are now ready to get their jabs; Told small- and medium-sized businesses they can be reimbursed for offering their employees. 

Read more at The Hill

Jackson Lewis: On-Site Federal Contractor Employees Not Fully Vaccinated May be Subject to Mask and COVID Screening Requirements

In an effort to slow the spread of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus, President Biden announced (in a July 29, 2021 White House Fact Sheet, as well as at a press conference) that on-site federal contractor employees will be asked about their vaccination status and if not fully vaccinated, be required to wear a mask and undergo COVID testing.

The administration will also “encourage employers across the private sector to follow this strong model.”

Read more at Jackson Lewis

Emergent BioSolutions Gets OK to Resume Production

Emergent BioSolutions has FDA approval to resume its role in producing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, albeit with continued oversight and inspections. “The American people should have high expectations of the partners its government chooses to help prepare them for disaster, and we have even higher expectations of ourselves,” Emergent CEO Robert Kramer says.

Read more at CNN

Accelerating Military-Connected Businesses

Applications are now being accepted for the Bunker Labs CEOcircle program sponsored by JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.  CEOcircle will provide 40 military-connected business leaders access to insights, advice and mentorship opportunities to help accelerate their businesses and expand their networks.  The year long program begins November 2, 2021 and includes four in-person educational forums, monthly facilitated peer-to-peer virtual group meetings and one-on-one mentorship sessions with JPMorgan Chase.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Military veteran or military spouse on the company’s executive leadership team
  • Annual revenue of $5 million+ with high growth potential
  • Align with the program’s focus industries: 
    • Technology and Disruptive Commerce: Fast-growing, early-stage companies leveraging technology to disrupt their respective industry
    • Diversified Industries: Including, but not limited to, Manufacturers, Distributors, and Service and Government Contractors

Applications are open and will close on August 4. There is no cost to apply. 

Please email Liz Marion elizabeth.marion@bunkerlabs.org at Bunker Labs for an application or questions

No Manufacturers Among the NY Power Authority’s Economic Development Awards in Mid-Hudson

Governor Cuomo last week announced the New York Power Authority’s Board of Trustees has approved economic development awards to 17 entities that will support 2,831 jobs across the state—with 450 jobs being newly created—and spur more than $549 million in private capital investments. Fifteen entities are receiving awards through ReCharge NY power allocations, while the remaining two are receiving Niagara hydropower allocations in Western New York.

Weekly Jobless Claims Come in Higher Than Expected

Initial unemployment claims came in higher than expected last week, coming in at 400,000, according to the latest report from the Labor Department. Consensus economists were looking for 385,000, according to Bloomberg data. This came following 424,000 new jobless claims during the prior week, which was upwardly revised from the 419,000 previous reported.

Continuing claims were also higher-than-anticipated, coming in at 3.269 million for the week ended July 17. Consensus economists were looking for 3.183 million. 

Read more at MarketWatch

McKinsey Study on COVID-19 and Education, the  Effects of Unfinished Learning are Significant and Lingering

The McKinsey analysis shows that the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year. The pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest. In math, students in majority Black schools ended the year with six months of unfinished learning, students in low-income schools with seven. High schoolers have become more likely to drop out of school, and high school seniors, especially those from low-income families, are less likely to go on to postsecondary education. And the crisis had an impact on not just academics but also the broader health and well-being of students, with more than 35 percent of parents very or extremely concerned about their children’s mental health.

The fallout from the pandemic threatens to depress this generation’s prospects and constrict their opportunities far into adulthood. Today’s students may earn $49,000 to $61,000 less over their lifetime owing to the impact of the pandemic on their schooling. The impact on the US economy could amount to $128 billion to $188 billion every year as this cohort enters the workforce.

Read more at McKinsey

The Economist: America’s Vaccination Woes Cannot be Blamed Only on Politics

Many Democrats have been quick to blame Republican politics for the soaring infections. Republicans are less likely than Democrats to get vaccinated.

But the problem goes beyond disinformation and poor leadership. The roots of vaccine hesitancy run deep. And the barrage of scepticism would have been much less effective had people been equipped with a better understanding of health. “We have really struggled with health literacy over the years—this is not new,” explains Jennifer Dillaha of the Arkansas Department of Health. “People struggle with how to get good health information and apply it to their lives. And this existed as a problem in our state, long before the previous administration.”

Read more at The Economist