Our Blog

Daily Briefing – 422

Post: Dec. 12, 2021

New Indoor Mask Mandate Begins Today

Governor Hochul announced Friday that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. The State Health Commissioner issued a determination solidifying the requirement. This determination is based on the State’s weekly seven-day case rate as well as increasing hospitalizations. 

  • This measure is effective Dec. 13, 2021 until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the State will re-evaluate based on current conditions.
  • A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation.
  • Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements.
  • Businesses and venues that implement a mask requirement must ensure all patrons two years and older wear a mask at all times while indoors.

The State’s masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.    

Inflation Surged 6.8% in November, Fastest Rate Since 1982 Putting Pressure on Fed

The consumer price index, which measures the cost of a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, rose 0.8% for the month, good for a 6.8% pace on a year over year basis and the fastest rate since June 1982. Excluding food and energy prices, so-called core CPI was up 0.5% for the month and 4.9% from a year ago, which itself was the sharpest pickup since mid-1991.  The report put pressure on the economic recovery and raising the stakes for the Federal Reserve.

Energy prices have risen 33.3% since November 2020, including a 3.5% surge in November. Gasoline alone is up 58.1%. Food prices have jumped 6.1% over the year, while used car and truck prices, a major contributor to the inflation burst, are up 31.4%, following a 2.5% increase last month.

Read more at CNBC

Manufacturing Had More Than 1 Million Job Openings in October

There were more than 1 million job openings in manufacturing in October, a more than 6.4% increase from the 948,000 openings in September, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover numbers from the Department of Labor. October also saw record paces in job openings for both durable (584,000, from September’s 568,000) and nondurable (425,000, from September’s 380,000) goods firms. Manufacturers hired 495,000 people in October, an increase from September’s 483,000 and the most new hires since January 2001. 

In the larger economy. nonfarm business jobs increased from 10.6 million in September to just more than 11 million in October, close to the record number in July. There were 7.4 million unemployed Americans in October, the equivalent of 0.67 unemployed people for every one job opening in the U.S. economy.

Read the DOL press release

Inflation Hits Workers Already Worn Down by Covid-19

A dichotomy is unfolding around the U.S..  Lately jobs abound, consumer demand is up and roadside signs tout signing bonuses as the economy improves. Yet many workers and small-business owners say they are frustrated with inflation, which hit a 39-year high in November, and with the still-disruptive effects of the pandemic.

While nearly two-thirds of the largest U.S. public companies have reaped higher profit margins as executives across industries raise prices on consumers, most Americans say inflation is causing them at least some financial strain, a recent Wall Street Journal poll found. November’s consumer prices were up 6.8% from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Friday, amid continuing high demand and supply shortages.

Read more at the WSJ

US COVID Update – 60.4% of All Americans Fully Vaccinated

The US CDC reports 49.3 million cumulative COVID-19 cases and 788,903 deaths. Daily incidence has increased steadily since the most recent low on October 24, up from 64,151 new cases per day to 117,488 on December 7—+83% over that period. Daily mortality is currently 1,097 deaths per day, which is higher than the average prior to the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend. At the current pace, the US could surpass 800,000 cumulative deaths in the next 11 days and 2.5 deaths per 1,000 population—or 1 death per 400 population—in the next month. The US is #19 globally in terms of per capita cumulative mortality. 

The US has administered 476 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. There are 237 million individuals who have received at least 1 vaccine dose, equivalent to 71.4% of the entire US population. Among adults, 83.8% have received at least 1 dose, as well as 20.7 million children under the age of 18. A total of 200 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 60.4% of the total population.  Since August 13, 48.9 million fully vaccinated individuals have received an additional or booster dose.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update  

Vaccine Stats as of  December 12:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 80.8% of all New Yorkers – 15,177,649 (plus 221,047 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,591,824 (plus 1,415).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 70.3% of all New Yorkers – 13,568,858 (plus 21,365).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,395,550 (plus 1,975). 

The Governor  updated COVID data through December 11 .  There were 60 COVID related deaths for a total of 59,784. 


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 3,474.

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 4.61%    –    51.98 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 4.55%   –  45.78 positive  cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:

CDC: Most Reported U.S. Omicron Cases Have Hit the Fully Vaccinated With (So Far) Mild Symptoms – Boosters Make a Difference

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that of the 43 cases attributed to Omicron variant, 34 people had been fully vaccinated. Fourteen of them had also received a booster, although five of those cases occurred less than 14 days after the additional shot before full protection kicks in. Most of them only had mild symptoms such as coughing, congestion, and fatigue, the report said, and one person was hospitalized for two days. Other symptoms reported less frequently including nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, diarrhea and loss of taste or smell.

Meanwhile an Israeli study appears to support findings from Pfizer and BioNTech that three doses of their vaccine, including a booster as well as an initial two-shot regimen, provide strong protection against the omicron variant, Reuters reported.

Read more at The Hill

How Many Workers Have Quit to Avoid Vaccine Mandates?

Just 5% of unvaccinated workers—and 1% of all workers overall—said they left a job because of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from their employer, more evidence that a feared exodus of workers due to mandates isn’t as severe as some predicted.

The statistic comes from a new survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that one-quarter of workers surveyed in October said their employer has required them to get vaccinated, up from 9% in June and 19% last month. While about a quarter of all adults say they know someone who has left a job because of a vaccine requirement, just 5% of unvaccinated workers (1% of all adults) say they have personally done so. The nonpartisan organization surveyed 1,519 adults Oct. 14-24.

Read more at HR Executive 

CDC Urges kids Ages 16-17 to Get Newly Cleared Boosters

U.S., federal authorities are giving booster shots for 16- and 17-year-olds a strong endorsement. Hours after the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized the extra doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents in that age group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that those teens get the added protection as soon as they’re six months past their initial shots.

The third dose is identical to the other two. Booster doses are already encouraged for people over 18 who had their previous Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines at least six months earlier, or the Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months prior. The U.S. government has pre-purchased enough doses to provide boosters free of charge to anyone who qualifies.

Read more at USA Today

Campaign to Vaccinate Young Children off to Sluggish Start Despite Abundant Supply

The United States rushed millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11 across the nation, but demand for inoculations for younger kids has been low, more than a dozen state public health officials and physicians said.

Of the 28 million eligible U.S. children in that age group, around 5 million have received at least one dose, according to federal data, likely satisfying initial pent up demand from parents who were waiting to vaccinate their kids.

Read more at Reuters

New Jobless Claims Totaled 184,000, Lowest Since 1969

New initial jobless claims improved much more than expected last week to reach the lowest level in more than five decades, further pointing to the tightness of the present labor market as many employers seek to retain workers. 

  • Initial unemployment claims, week ended Dec. 4: 184,000 vs. 220,000 expected and an upwardly revised 227,000 during prior week.
  • Continuing claims, week ended Nov. 27: 1.992 million vs. 1.910 million expected and a downwardly revised 1.954 million during prior week.

“Beyond weekly moves, the overall trend in filings remains downward and confirms that businesses facing labor shortages are holding onto workers,” wrote Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics, in a note on Wednesday. 

Read more at Yahoo Finance

U.S. Third-Quarter Labor Costs Revised Sharply Higher

The Labor Department said on Tuesday that unit labor costs, the price of labor per single unit of output, accelerated at a 9.6% annualized rate last quarter. That was revised up from the 8.3% pace reported in November.  Labor costs rose at a 5.9% pace in the April-June quarter. They increased at a 6.3% rate compared to a year ago, instead of the previously reported 4.8% rate.

Hourly compensation increased at a 3.9% rate in the third quarter, rather than at a 2.9% rate as previously reported.  The surge in labor costs came at the expense of worker productivity, which fell at a downwardly revised 5.2% rate last quarter. Productivity was previously reported to have tumbled at a 5.0% pace. It grew at a 2.4% pace in the April-June quarter.

Read more at Reuters

Starbucks Workers in Buffalo Vote to Join Union

Workers at a Starbucks store in Buffalo voted to join a union, making it the first company-owned store in the United States to organize. The 19-8 vote to join a union by workers at the Starbucks store on Elmwood Avenue was a major victory for union organizers after an organizing campaign that was staunchly opposed by Starbucks and drew national attention. But it was a mixed victory. Workers at a Starbucks store in Hamburg voted 12-8 against joining a union. And the results at a third store in Cheektowaga were undetermined after the ballots were counted. 
The organizing campaign was closely watched nationally because of its implications elsewhere for Starbucks and potentially other fast-food chains, where worker turnover is high and pay is toward the bottom end of the pay scale.

UK Economy Almost Flatlined in October, Adding to Rate Hike Doubts

Britain’s economy barely grew in October, even before the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, further denting expectations that the Bank of England (BoE) will raise interest rates next week for the first time since the pandemic struck.  The world’s fifth-biggest economy remained 0.5% smaller than it was just before Britain was first hit by COVID-19 in early 2020, the Office for National Statistics said.

Gross domestic product edged up by just 0.1%, slowing sharply from September’s 0.6% growth and much weaker than a forecast of 0.4% in a Reuters poll of economists. 

Read more at Reuters

Ulster County Secures 33,000 Rapid at-Home COVID-19 Tests

Ulster County has secured 33,000 COVID-19 at-home rapid test kits in an effort to allow local schools and businesses to remain open safely while increasing testing capacity and access throughout the county.

The county will partner with schools, towns and non-profits to assist with distribution. Those tests will be provided at no cost to residents, helping to ensure fair and equitable access to the testing resource.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News

The Economist – Regardless of Policy or the Pandemic, Price Surges Have Their Own Remorseless Mathematics

If these headlines about inflation highs seem like clockwork in America, that is because, to a significant extent, they now are. Such are the basic mathematics of year-on-year price trends. The surge in inflation since the start of 2021 means that it is guaranteed to remain elevated in annual terms for a while to come. A relatively optimistic forecast would have inflation returning to its pre-pandemic norm only at the very end of 2022.

The challenge is to bend the price curve towards the more benign outcome. In this regard, there is some cause for optimism, even if it will take a while to see results. First, the giant fiscal stimulus that helped stoke demand in America is running its course. Second, the Fed is moving towards tighter monetary policy.  In the meantime, brace for a few more months of multi-decade highs in inflation. It is in the stars and, most crucially, in the sums.

Read more at The Economist