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Daily Briefing – 408

Post: Nov. 14, 2021

Record-High 11 Million Job Openings 

The Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, released on Friday, reflects an uneven economy with strong demand grinding against labor and goods shortages, driving overall inflation to its biggest annual gain in 31 years. Quits rose by about 164,000 in September, lifting the total to a record high of 4.4 million. The quits rate is seen as a good measure of labor market confidence as workers leave when they are more secure in their ability to find a new job.

Job openings were at 10.4 million on the last day of September. Hiring also remained largely unchanged at 6.5 million in September. Four industry categories have more than 1.5 million openings each: trade, transportation, and utilities (2.031 million), education and health care (1.878 million), professional and business services (1.786 million), and leisure and hospitality (1.586 million).  Manufacturing has 897,000 openings. 

Read more a the WSJ

Appeals Court Upholds Order Freezing Biden Vaccine Rule for Employers

A three-judge panel for the Louisiana-based Fifth Circuit said in a 24-page ruling that the Biden administration’s order exposes companies to “severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply, and threatens to decimate their workforces.” The judges said the court’s earlier stay was reaffirmed pending a full judicial review.

“On the dubious assumption that the mandate does pass constitutional muster, which we need not decide today, it is nonetheless fatally flawed on its own terms,” the court wrote, signaling the uphill legal battle facing the administration. Earlier this week, the Justice Department asked the court to end its initial stay, arguing that the vaccine rule reflects “expert judgment that these measures are necessary to mitigate COVID transmission throughout America’s workplaces.”

Read more at NBC News

Inflation Has Taken Away All the Wage Gains for Workers

The Labor Department reported Friday that average hourly earnings increased 0.4% in October, about in line with estimates. That was the good news. However, the department reported Wednesday that top-line inflation for the month increased 0.9%, far more than what had been expected. That was the bad news – very bad news, in fact.

That’s because it meant that all told, real average hourly earnings when accounting for inflation, actually decreased 0.5% for the month. So an apparent solid paycheck increase actually turned into a decrease, and another setback for workers still struggling to shake off the effects of the COVID pandemic.

Read more at CNBC

Consumer Confidence Falls To A Decade Low

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, which measures how American consumers view prospects for their finances and the general economy, fell to 66.8, the lowest in 10 years, from 71.7 last month—a drop that a chief economist for the index said Friday was caused by increasing prices of goods and services and a lack of policies that consumers believe could address the skyrocketing inflation.

Half of American families anticipated bringing home smaller incomes after adjusting for inflation next year, Curtin said. The preliminary index comes as consumer prices rose 6.2% in October compared to the same month last year, marking the fastest annual pace in 30 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Read more at Forbes

US COVID Update – Cases Plateauing 

The US CDC reports 46.6 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 755,201 deaths. The current daily incidence average is approximately 74,584 new cases per day and appears to be increasing. The decline in daily mortality appears to have passed an inflection point and appears to be holding relatively steady. The US is currently averaging 1,078 deaths per day.

The daily vaccination trend reached a recent peak at 1.2 million doses on October 29 but has declined slightly to 1.17 million doses as of November 5.  There are 224.7 million individuals who have received at least 1 vaccine dose, equivalent to 67.7% of the entire US population.  A total of 194 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 58.5% of the total population.  Since the CDC authorized use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 years, an estimated 1 million elementary-age kids have received their first dose, according to a White House official.

Read more at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update 

Vaccine Stats as of Saturday November 13th:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 75.5 of all New Yorkers – 14,553,755 (plus 24,651 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,527,259 (plus 3,931).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 67.5% of all New Yorkers – 13,115,677 (plus 11,276).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,351,288 (plus 1,584). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through Friday November 12th.  There were 20 COVID related deaths for a total of 58,479.


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 1,869.

Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:

  • Statewide 3.12%
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.39%

Useful Websites:

Updated FAQs: Federal Contractor January 18 “Fully Vaccinated” Deadline

On November 10, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force again updated the binding Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors implementing Executive Order 14042, and issued new and updated FAQs for federal contractors.

The first order of business was to officially extend the full vaccination deadline from December 8, 2021 to January 4, 2022, as stated in the White House Fact Sheet regarding the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).   Recall, however, that the Executive Order’s definition of “fully vaccinated” is two weeks after a last vaccine shot. Thus, the critical deadline is January 18, two weeks after the deadline to get a final dose.  January 4 will be the last day a covered employee could receive a final dose and be fully vaccinated by January 18.  

Read more at Jackson Lewis

Biden and China’s Xi to Hold Virtual Summit Today

President Joe Biden will hold a highly anticipated virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday evening, CNBC has confirmed. The summit will be the first time in Biden’s term that they have communicated face-to-face in a formal summit format. Traditionally, world leader to leader summits are carefully choreographed to produce some kind of tangible outcome. But senior White House officials said the Biden-Xi summit will not be like that.

The summit comes as the United States and China are at odds on major geopolitical issues like trade, human rights, military buildup, Taiwan and cybersecurity. China has been scaling up military exercises near Taiwan in recent months, a show of force that has not gone unnoticed by the Biden administration.

Read more at CNBC

This Is What Port Congestion Looks Like

Ports in the United States have been facing serious congestion issues for almost a year, even as manufacturers work tirelessly to ensure essential products can get where they need to go. NAM Director of Photography David Bohrer recently paid a visit to the Port of Long Beach, where an influx of exports coming to the United States is causing traffic jams along the California coast.

See David Boher’s Photos – NAM

78% of US Markets Hit With Double-Digit Home Price Increases

The median price of single-family existing homes rose in nearly all — 99% — of the 183 markets tracked by the National Association of Realtors in the third quarter, with double-digit price increases seen in 78% of the markets.  The average monthly mortgage payment on a single-family home — financed with a 20% down payment, and a 30-year fixed-rate loan — rose to $1,214. That’s $156 more than a year ago.

But the stratospheric surges in prices have slowed a bit from earlier this year, according to NAR’s quarterly home price report, released Wednesday. The median home price was up 16% to $363,700 in the third quarter from a year ago, a slower clip than the 22.9% jump in the second quarter.

Read more at CNN

Kellogg Strike Update: Union Rejects Offer and Company Sues for Intimidation

More than a month into the strike of Kellogg cereal plants in four states, the cereal company and bakery workers’ union appear to be at a worse impasse than ever. The Kellogg Co. filed a lawsuit November 11 against the striking Omaha, Nebraska, chapter of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, alleging that workers on picket lines physically blocked driveways and threatened replacement workers.

The lawsuit comes about a week after BCTGM leadership didn’t let Kellogg’s latest tentative offer to come for a vote, which the union announced November 4. “Kellogg’s continues to insist on takeaways,” the BCTGM said, and despite Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane’s November 5 plea for the union to allow a vote, allowed the offer to expire.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Biden Spending Bill to Likely Slip in Senate Agenda After House Delays

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had hoped to start debate on the Build Back Better legislation this week. But in a letter sent to the Senate Democratic caucus on Sunday, he said the Senate is “likely” to take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a massive defense policy bill, instead. The defense bill typically passes by a wide bipartisan margin but is a magnet for hundreds of potential changes, and it can take roughly two weeks to get the bill on to the floor and to a final vote. 

Schumer, in his letter, noted that the Senate’s defense bill debate will include a vote on repealing the 2002 Iraq War authorization. He’s also mulling adding in China competitiveness legislation that passed the Senate earlier this year but has stalled in the House. 

Read more at The Hill

First GE Now J&J – Johnson & Johnson Announces Plans to Split in Two

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson on Friday announced plans to break up, splitting its consumer health arm that sells Band-Aid and Tylenol from its pharmaceutical division that includes the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The spin-off will create “two global leaders that are better positioned to deliver improved health outcomes for patients and consumers through innovation,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

Read more at IndustryWeek

First GE, then J&J, Now Toshiba – Toshiba to Split Into Three Units

Toshiba Corp.  said it planned to split into three by March 2024 in response to shareholder pressure for a more-focused structure, following a similar path taken by fellow industrial conglomerate General Electric Co. The split comes after Toshiba unloaded other divisions in recent years, including medical devices, personal computers, consumer electronics and its U.S. nuclear-power unit, Westinghouse Electric, which declared bankruptcy in 2017.

Under the plan, one of the three units will focus on infrastructure and a second on electronic devices such as power semiconductors. The third, which will retain the Toshiba name, will manage the company’s stake in flash-memory company Kioxia Holdings Corp. and other assets.

Read more at the WSJ

The Economist: Why COVID-19 is Likely to Fade Away in 2022

Pandemics do not die—they fade away. And that is what covid-19 is likely to do in 2022. True, there will be local and seasonal flare-ups, especially in chronically undervaccinated countries. Epidemiologists will also need to watch out for new variants that might be capable of outflanking the immunity provided by vaccines. Even so, over the coming years, as covid settles into its fate as an endemic disease, like flu or the common cold, life in most of the world is likely to return to normal—at least, the post-pandemic normal.

Behind this prospect lie both a stunning success and a depressing failure. The success is that very large numbers of people have been vaccinated and that, at each stage of infection from mild symptoms to intensive care, new medicines can now greatly reduce the risk of death. It is easy to take for granted, but the rapid creation and licensing of so many vaccines and treatments for a new disease is a scientific triumph.

Read more at The Economist (COVID Coverage remains free)