U.S. Manufacturing Sector Edges Up in August – ISM
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Wednesday its index of national factory activity inched up to 59.9 last month from a reading of 59.5 in July. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in manufacturing, which accounts for 11.9% of the U.S. economy. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index falling to 58.6.
Manufacturing is holding up even as spending is rotating back to services from goods because of vaccinations against COVID-19. But shortages of labor and raw materials, especially semiconductors, remain a constraint.
Hochul Calls Lawmakers Into Special Session to Address Evictions
The New York State Senate and Assembly convened a special session of the state Legislature Wednesday to extend New York’s moratorium on evictions. The ban on evictions was set to expire at the end of the day Tuesday. Hochul plans to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and rental assistance program through January 15.
The moratorium was put in place to protect tenants from being evicted due to financial hardship due to the pandemic. It has been criticized by landlords who haven’t been able to collect rent to pay their own bills. She’s calling the session also to discuss changes to the Open Meetings Law, hoping to make meetings more accessible statewide.
The Fed has bought $4 Trillion in Assets During the Pandemic or 18% of GDP
Over the past year Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, has again and again used the same phrasing to kick off his press conferences after it sets interest rates. “Good afternoon. At the Federal Reserve, we are strongly committed to achieving the monetary-policy goals that Congress has given us: maximum employment and price stability.”
The simple wording belies a remarkable evolution in Fed policy and practice on his watch. The Fed has bought more than $4trn in assets during the pandemic (equivalent to 18% of gdp), dwarfing the scale of its actions after the global financial crisis, and swelling its total balance-sheet to $8.3trn. And in the process, he has presided over a bold gamble, keeping policy ultra-loose even as inflation soars. To his supporters—of whom there are many—he saved America from an economic catastrophe. To his critics, however, he is steering it into danger.
U.S. Home-Price Growth Rose to Record in June
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 18.6% in the year that ended in June, up from a 16.8% annual rate the prior month. June marked the highest annual rate of price growth since the index began in 1987.
Home prices have skyrocketed this year, as the inventory of homes for sale remains well below typical levels and ultralow interest rates have spurred demand. Homes listed for sale this spring and summer routinely received multiple offers and sold above asking price. The number of houses for sale has ticked higher in recent weeks, but inventory continues to be low, especially for lower-priced homes. Active listings in the four weeks ended Aug. 22 were up 16% from their recent low in the four weeks ended in March but still down 23% from a year earlier, according to real-estate brokerage Redfin Corp.
US COVID Update – With 4 Months Left in 2021, Here’s Where the US Stands With Covid-19
September marks a year and a half since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic and the United States issued a national emergency because of the virus.
The virus is still running rampant, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths back to levels not seen since the winter thanks to the new Delta variant, according to a CNN data analysis. Despite that, there’s hope on the horizon when it comes to the fight against the virus now that more than half of the total US population is vaccinated.
NYS Vaccine and COVID Update
Vaccine Stats as of Wednesday September 1st:
One Vaccine Dose
- 67.4 of all New Yorkers – 13,029,560 (plus 35,311 from a day earlier)
- In the Hudson Valley 1,382,246 (plus 3,702)
- 60.1% of all New Yorkers – 11,711,557 are fully vaccinated (Plus 29,944)
- In the Hudson Valley – 1,226,872 (plus 2,840) are fully vaccinated.
The Governor updated COVID data through Tuesday August 31st. There were 27 COVID related deaths for a total of 55,621.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,285.
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 3.36%
- Mid-Hudson: 3.67%
- Read the press release
- Visit the vaccine tracker site
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
WSJ Analysis: States That Cut Unemployment Benefits Saw Limited Impact on Job Growth
States that ended enhanced federal unemployment benefits early have so far seen about the same job growth as states that continued offering the pandemic-related extra aid, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis and economists. Nonfarm payrolls rose 1.33% in July from April in the 25 states that ended the benefits and 1.37% in the other 25 states and the District of Columbia, the Journal analysis of Labor Department data showed.
Economists who have conducted their own analyses of the government data say the rates of job growth in states that ended and states that maintained the benefits are, from a statistical perspective, about the same.
How to Address Addiction Issues in the Workplace
When most people hear about drug overdoses, they immediately think of the stereotypical homeless, strung out “druggie.” But the truth is, millions of people struggle with addiction every day, most of whom you would never suspect, including doctors, attorneys, IT engineers, heavy equipment operators, “soccer moms” and successful entrepreneurs.
The statistics are shocking and overwhelming: substance use has skyrocketed since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns and overdose deaths hit an all-time high of more than 93,000 in 2020, an increase of nearly 30% from 2019, according to provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
White House to Unveil Steps Aimed at Easing Housing Supply Shortage
The changes would draw upon the administrative authority of government regulators such as the Federal Housing Finance Agency as Congress weighs broader policy changes tied to the debate over revamping U.S. infrastructure, according to a draft plan reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal. FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage giants that back about half of the $11 trillion mortgage market.
Individually, each regulatory move is technical and modest. Collectively, though, “they should have a meaningful impact, particularly because they are all focused on the lower end of the market, where there is the most need,” said Jim Parrott, a former Obama administration housing adviser, commenting on the draft.
Pfizer Launches Later-Stage Study of Pill to Treat COVID-19
Pfizer on Wednesday announced that it had initiated a later-stage clinical trial for a pill that could potentially treat COVID-19. Pfizer is beginning a trial that will enroll 1,140 participants, the company said.
If proven to be safe and effective, the drug could fill an unmet need for a widespread, easier-to-use treatment, as opposed to an infusion like remdesivir, another treatment. The drug could eventually be used in a “broad” population of patients, Pfizer said, namely people who have symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and are not hospitalized or at risk of severe illness.
White House Appoints Port Envoy
The White House announced August 27 that it would appoint John D. Porcari to Biden’s supply-chain disruption task force as its port envoy. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called Porcari “uniquely qualified” to work on port congestion thanks to his experience with public and private port infrastructure.
International supply chains around the world are in the midst of a monthslong disruption due to spikes in demand and delays exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to address those issues, President Biden announced a task force on supply chain disruptions shortly after entering office.
IHS PMI: Supply Bottlenecks Slow German Factory Growth
Supply-chain bottlenecks pushed factory activity in Germany to its lowest level in six months. IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing showed that growth fell to 62.6 in August from 65.9 the previous month (though anything above 50 indicates growth). Separately, German retail sales fell by 5.1% in July after two consecutive months of growth.
DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This temporary guidance was set to expire August 31, 2021. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended the Form I-9 requirement flexibility policy until December 31, 2021.
See the original ICE news release from March 23, 2020 for more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9. Please also consult ICE’s guidance for clarification on this provision.
Extensive Ida Storm Damage Hurts Oil Industry Recovery Effort
Energy companies on Wednesday scrambled to open new offshore supply operations and restart pipelines and platforms, days after Hurricane Ida slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast, executives said.
Oil refineries, however, could take weeks to restart while utilities work to restore power and supply water, they said. Damaged roads, power and transport facilities slowed efforts to complete aerial surveys of offshore platforms and pipelines three days after the storm tore through the Gulf of Mexico. The surveys are first step to returning about 80% of the region’s oil output halted by the storm.