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Post: Aug. 17, 2021

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.


  • 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