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Daily Briefing – 393

Post: Oct. 18, 2021

Factory Output Fell in September

Production at U.S. factories fell by the most in seven months in September, in part reflecting a sharp pullback in the manufacturing of motor vehicles as well as broader backlogged supply chains and materials shortages.

The 0.7% decrease for manufacturers followed a revised 0.4% decline in August, Federal Reserve data showed Monday. Total industrial production, which also includes mining and utility output, fell 1.3% last month. Resilient demand among firms and consumers has kept production elevated, but it’s also contributed to order backlogs as manufacturers struggle to source materials and skilled labor. The weaker-than-expected September print indicates that producers continue to be held back by snarled supply chains. The figures also reflect ongoing production challenges following Hurricane Ida, which contributed 0.3 percentage point to the drop in manufacturing, the Fed said.

Read more at Bloomberg

NY Fed Supplemental Survey: Supply Disruptions Taking a Toll on Many Businesses

Supplementary questions in the October 2021 Empire State Manufacturing Survey focused on the degree of difficulty businesses have been having in dealing with supply delays and disruptions.

  • 94 percent of manufacturers indicated that they were having difficulties securing key supplys
  • Moreover 44 percent of manufacturers characterized such difficulties as “substantial.”
  • When asked about the effects of supply disruptions on business 41 percent of manufacturers—
    said they were “substantially” impeding business activity. 
  • Almost no respondents said the availability of supplies had improved with nearly two-thirds of manufacturers said they had worsened.
  • Almost half of manufacturers said they expect the availability of supplies to worsen further. 
  • Asked what actions they had taken, if any, within the past three months—with respect to output, employment, hours, and prices— in response to supply disruptions 64 percent of manufacturers said they had hiked prices. Moreover, roughly one in five manufacturers said they had hiked prices substantially. 
  • The vast majority of businesses in both surveys said they did not make any reductions to either
    employment or hours. 

Read more at the NY Fed

China’s Economy Stumbles on Power Crunch, Property Woes

China’s economy hit its slowest pace of growth in a year in the third quarter, hurt by power shortages and wobbles in the property sector, highlighting the challenge facing policymakers as they seek to prop up a faltering recovery while reining in the real estate sector.  Gross domestic product expanded 4.9% from a year ago, missing forecasts. a drive to make structural changes Under President Xi Jinping that address long-term risks and distortions, which has involved crackdowns on the property sector and technology giants, as well as carbon emission cuts, has taken a toll.

The world’s second-largest economy had staged an impressive rebound from last year’s pandemic slump but the recovery has lost steam from the blistering 18.3% growth clocked in the first quarter.

Read more at Reuters

Why American Workers are More Willing to Strike

Strikes have taken place against 178 employers in 2021, per Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ tracker, and unions and economists say the trend is being driven by the same factors fueling the “Great Resignation” as workers fight for better pay, enhanced benefits and high-quality jobs within a tighter job market. A Gallup poll in August found that 68% of Americans are in favor of unions — the highest percentage since 1965 — and the proportion rises to nearly 78% among ages 18 to 29.

Despite some setbacks, including a failed organizing drive earlier this year at an Amazon.com facility outside Birmingham, Alabama, union leaders feel the stars are aligned for them to make gains.

Read more at Reuters

US COVID – Answers to Your Flu Season Questions in the Time of COVID-19 

The timing of Covid boosters and flu shots is one of many questions that people are asking their doctors as flu season arrives.  Covid-19 precautions suppressed flu cases last year, but public-health officials expect the flu to return this season. Lower lingering protection from fewer flu cases last year and higher levels of other viruses this year both signal the potential for a tough flu season.

Here’s what to know about flu shots, Covid-19 vaccines and the winter virus season.

Read more at the WSJ

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Monday October 18th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 73.0 of all New Yorkers – 14,129,105 (plus 13,222 from a day earlier) 
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,479,987 (plus 642) 

Fully Vaccinated

  • 65.5% of all New Yorkers – 12,728,745 (plus 18,567).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,317,900 (plus 883). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Sunday October 17th.  There were 28 COVID related deaths for a total of 57,288.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,144.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 2.46%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.22%

Useful Websites:

Should You Mix and Match COVID-19 Vaccines? Nat Geo Experts Weigh In

Can someone get their initial COVID-19 vaccine from one manufacturer and then get a booster from another? The question has intrigued medical professionals since before the first shot went into an arm—and it’s far more than an academic issue. Allowing people to mix and match COVID-19 shots could significantly improve vaccine distribution and may even offer some medical benefits. 

Globally, scientific support for mixing vaccines would be an especially big benefit for low-income countries, many of which don’t have national stockpiles. They’d be able to use whatever shots they receive from aid groups or donations at a given time. That’s particularly important when just 2.5 percent of people in these countries have received even one jab.

Read more at Nat Geo

US Supply Chain Woes to Stretch into 2022, Biden Admin Warns

The U.S. transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday warned that America’s supply chain woes including clogged ports will drag into next year, potentially cramping the upcoming holiday shopping season in the world’s largest economy.  “A lot of the challenges that we have been experiencing this year will continue into next year,” the transport chief and former presidential candidate told CNN’s “State of the Union” show.

Buttigieg added that the supply side crunch was being exacerbated by extraordinary pent-up demand in the United States.  “Demand is off the charts, retail sales are through the roof,” he said, and the country’s transportation and shipping infrastructure has been unable to keep up. Allianz chief economic advisor Mohamed El-Erian, speaking to “Fox News Sunday” about the supply chain crunch, called it “the everything shortage.”

Read more at IndustryWeek

NYSDOL Issues FAQs Regarding Recreational Marijuana

Earlier this month, the New York Department of Labor (DOL) published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana and its impact on the workplace.

The DOL’s FAQs confirm much of what we initially knew following the March 31, 2021 amendments to § 201-d. Therefore, notwithstanding its position on drug testing, which is discussed in greater detail below, the DOL’s guidance is largely unsurprising.

Ford to Invest £230m in Electric Vehicle Plant on Merseyside, England

Ford has announced it will invest £230m in a Merseyside transmission factory to upgrade it to make parts for electric vehicles, in a significant fillip for northern England’s automotive industry. By 2024 the lines at the factory will produce 250,000 electric drive units, components that include electric motors and power electronics, every year

The US carmaker’s investment will help maintain about 500 jobs at the plant in Halewood, Knowsley, which currently makes transmission systems for petrol and diesel vehicles. Ford will receive UK government support worth about £30m, according to a source with knowledge of negotiations.

Read more at The Guardian

Global Steel Forecast Cut Due to Chinese Contraction

The World Steel Association revised downward its semi-annual Short Range Outlook for global steel demand, pegging 2021 demand to rise 4.5% to 1.85 billion metric tons – still an improvement after the negligible increase (0.1%) for 2020. The 2022 demand level is now seen rising by 2.2% to 1.89 billion metric tons. In its previous Short Range Outlook, in April 2021, World Steel forecast that global steel demand would rise 5.8% this year to 1.87 billion metric tons, then a further 2.7% to 1.92 billion metric tons in 2022.

The trade association representing steelmaking businesses in 64 countries stipulated that its outlook assumes COVID-19 vaccination rates will continue to increase worldwide and that any spread of new variants of the virus “will be less damaging and disruptive than seen in previous waves.”

Read more at American Machinist

Mindful Approaches to Workplace Wellness

Nearly one-third of employers responding to the EHS Today Mental Health in the Workplace 2021 survey conducted earlier this year say they offer meditation, mindfulness or yoga programs at their company. The pandemic has many companies rethinking the importance of mental health as part of their overall wellness programs. “One thing the pandemic did was it broadened the definition of mental health,” says Aaron Harvey, who founded a mental health advocacy group called Made of Millions.

In the past, mental health was primarily recognized as diagnosed conditions, such as depression, but it may also encompass other emotional issues and life-changing events, such as grief, stress and divorce, Harvey says.

Read more at EHS Today

The Economist: How the Pandemic Will End

Winter 2025 could, with luck, be normal. Health-care systems will come under strain, as always, from the spread of respiratory diseases that land people in hospital. Influenza will afflict the elderly. Respiratory syncytial virus will make some children gravely ill. And a newish seasonal disease will belong in the mix: covid-19. It will overwhelmingly sicken the old, even more than flu. But, outside hospitals, life will continue largely uninterrupted.

Eventually, once immunity is widespread enough, cases of covid will fall into a seasonal pattern similar to other endemic respiratory diseases that have been circulating for a much longer time. Rachel Baker of Princeton University, who studies how viruses respond to environmental conditions, says that she expects within five or six years the patterns of covid infections will become seasonal, like those of other endemic coronaviruses, rather than being driven by immunological naivety.

Read more at The Economist