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Daily Briefing – 444

Post: Jan. 18, 2022

Empire Manufacturing Survey – Manufacturing Activity Levels Off

Manufacturing activity was little changed in New York State according to the January survey, suggesting that growth stalled after a period of significant expansion.  After eighteen months of positive readings, however, the general business conditions fell a steep thirty-three points to -0.7.

  • The new orders index posted a steep decline, falling thirty-two points to -5.0, pointing to a slight decline in orders.
  • The shipments index fell to 1.0, indicating that shipments were little changed.
  • The unfilled orders index came in at 12.1. The delivery times index held steady at 21.6, suggesting that delivery times continued to lengthen significantly.
  • The index for number of employees fell five points to 16.1, and the average workweek index fell to 10.3, indicating that firms increased employment and hours worked.
  • The prices paid index edged down four points to 76.7, and the prices received index fell eight points to 37.1, signaling ongoing substantial increases in both input prices and selling prices, though at a slower pace than last month.
  • The index for future business conditions held steady at 35.1.
  • The indexes for future prices paid and received both rose to record highs.
  • The capital expenditures index climbed two points to 39.7, a multi-year high.
  • and the technology spending index held steady at 31.9.

See the full results at the NY Fed

Governor Hochul Unveils $216.3 Billion Budget Proposal for 2023

Nearly five months since becoming New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul unveiled her first state budget for fiscal year 2023, calling it ‘socially responsible and fiscally prudent.’  It includes $31.2 billion in school aid, an increase of 7.1 percent. Other highlights include: 

  • $2.2 billion for property tax relief (FY 2023)
  • $2 billion for pandemic recovery initiatives (reserve funded in FY 2022)
  • $1 billion to enlarge the DOT capital plan (deployed over three years, FY 2023-FY 2025)
  • $1 billion for health care transformation (reserve funded from FY 2023 and 2024 operations)
  • $1.2 billion for bonuses for health care/frontline workers (FY 2023)
  • $350 million for pandemic relief for businesses and theater/musical arts (FY 2023)

“We have the means to immediately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as embrace this once-in-a-generation opportunity for the future with a historic level of funding that is both socially responsible and fiscally prudent,” Hochul said.

7 Takeaways From the Supreme Court Vaccine Mandate Ruling

The Supreme Court’s decision has far-reaching implications for employers nationwide. The ruling has a big impact on the job market. Many employers have been hesitant about implementing vaccine mandates over concerns they may lose unvaccinated employees in a hot job market and decided to instead rely on federal mandates in making their decision. Other employers believed mandating vaccines could be helpful to retain and recruit vaccinated employees. Now things are up in the air.

“This ruling has significant impact on the job market, as it’s no longer an even playing field among large employers in terms of recruitment,” says David Gordon, an employment litigation partner at law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. “Now, if a large employer believes that it would be advantageous not to require employees to be vaccinated, it will be free not to adopt a vaccine mandate if permissible where they are located.”  Here is what the experts say about seven major implications of the ruling.

Read more at HR Executive

Dow Down Nearly 500 Points as Bond Yields Hit 2-Year Highs

A fresh selloff in bonds sent U.S. stocks sharply lower on Tuesday after a three-day break, with the high-growth technology sector feeling the most pressure at the start of a busy week that also sees investors weighing the start of a busy earnings week.

The big move in financial markets Tuesday was in bonds, as the yield on the 10-year Treasury  rose 5.6 basis points to 1.846%, its highest since January 2020. Yields on the 2-year Treasury which are more sensitive to Fed policy expectations, shot up 7 basis points, rising above 1% for the first time since early 2020.

Read more at MarketWatch

US COVID – Omicron Variant Encourages Some to Drop Covid-19 Precautions

Omicron’s ubiquity and reduced severity are encouraging some people to drop pandemic precautions, decisions that public-health experts say present new risks for people at risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes. People, including those who got vaccinated and boosted and curtailed their activities for months, are letting their guard down in the face of a variant that appears to be infecting everyone but causing largely mild illness.

This is a dangerous way of thinking, doctors and scientists say: Omicron still poses risks to more vulnerable people, including the elderly, immunocompromised and those with underlying health conditions. Some doctors say they are also worried about Omicron resulting in more long-Covid cases, which can result in lingering and worsening symptoms months after infection, as well as questions of new variants arising with such widespread infection.

Read more at the WSJ

NYS Vaccine and COVID Update  – 7-Day Average New Cases Down 38.9% Over Last 7 Days

Vaccine Stats as of January 18:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 86.1% of all New Yorkers – 16,029,474   (plus 10,362 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,665,632  (plus 1,770).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 73.0% of all New Yorkers – 14,193,471   (plus 9,842).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,449,027   (plus 1,567). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 5,467,638 
  • In the Hudson Valley – 650,961   

The Governor updated COVID data through January 18.  There were 168 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 63,552. 


  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 11,981.

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 15.04%    –    231.29 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 15.16%   –  221.01 positive  cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:

At Least 20 Percent of Americans Have Been Infected with COVID-19

At least 20 percent of Americans have now been infected with COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  The data shows more than 66,400,000 Americans have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic began in early 2020. The country has seen more than 850,000 deaths. The total number of Americans who had COVID-19 could be much higher due to asymptomatic cases. 

The omicron variant currently spreading across the country has proven far more transmissible than previous vaccines, even among vaccinated populations.

Read more at The Hill

Israel Study: 4th Vaccine Shows Limited Results with Omicron

An Israeli hospital on Monday said preliminary research indicates a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine provides only limited defense against the omicron variant that is raging around the world. Sheba Hospital last month began administering a fourth vaccine to more than 270 medical workers — 154 who received a Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine and 120 others who received Moderna’s. All had previously been vaccinated three times with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. 

The clinical trial found that both groups showed increases in antibodies “slightly higher” than following the third vaccine last year. But it said the increased antibodies did not prevent the spread of omicron.

Read more at The AP

N95? KF94? Which Mask is Best at Protecting Against COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said Americans should wear the most protective mask they can, but stopped short of recommending an N95 or similar face covering. 

“The best masks are some version of N95,” said Eric Toner, senior scientist of environmental health and engineering at Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. “N95s, KN95s and KF94s are functionally equivalent.”

Read more at Reuters

Texas, Arizona Have Recovered All the Jobs Lost When Covid-19 Hit

Texas and Arizona have joined two other states in recovering all the jobs they lost at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, leading a trend that is expected to include another dozen states by the middle of this year.

The states, which also include Utah and Idaho, have benefited from demographic shifts before and during the pandemic—experiencing outsize payroll growth in retail, warehousing, technology and transportation industries. Companies have moved operations to the states, and workers have moved in as well, sometimes leaving more crowded and expensive urban areas. The states—all Republican controlled—also have had relatively relaxed Covid-19 restrictions during the pandemic, which economists say softened the blow on their economies.

Read more at the WSJ

Oil Hit 7-Year Highs as Tight Supply Bites

Oil prices on Tuesday climbed to their highest since 2014 as possible supply disruption after attacks in the Mideast Gulf added to an already tight supply outlook. Supply concerns mounted this week after Yemen’s Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates, escalating hostilities between the Iran-aligned group and a Saudi Arabian-led coalition. Also adding to geopolitical price premiums are rising tensions between Ukraine and OPEC+ member Russia. read more

In addition, some producers within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are struggling to pump at their allowed capacities under an agreement with Russia and allies to add 400,000 barrels per day each month.  Brent crude futures rose to $87.25 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose to $85.07 a barrel. 

Read more at Reuters

5G – Why the FAA is Worried About Your Cellphone Again.

On January 19, Verizon and AT&T plan to switch on new cellular frequencies that will boost connections for tens of millions of phones throughout the US. Once these airwaves are activated, you should be able to download a song to your phone in just a few seconds. This is thanks to the addition of C-band frequency, which could not only improve speeds but also expand 5G coverage.  But this update hinges on a familiar yet unexpected critic of cellular technology: the Federal Aviation Administration.

What’s 5G got to do with airplanes? Not much, argue the wireless carriers. But the FAA says it’s worried that C-band could interfere with some radio altimeters, aircraft safety tools that rely on nearby airwaves. The agency is so concerned that it’s been fighting to delay 5G deployment and has issued guidance that could cause flight cancellations from airports operating near certain 5G antennas, meaning that anyone who flies or has one of these devices could be affected.

Read more at Vox

ExxonMobil Targets ‘Net Zero’ Emissions at Operations by 2050

ExxonMobil pledged Tuesday to reach “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions in its operations by 2050, but stopped short of extending the promise to products it sells throughout the global economy.  The petroleum giant’s promise covers “Scope 1” and “Scope 2” emissions, which account for carbon emissions from ExxonMobil operations, as well as emissions associated with the purchase of heating or cooling at its facilities, according to a company press release.

But the U.S. oil giant avoided targets on “Scope 3” emissions, which are those from products sold, such as the gasoline consumers buy. Some European companies such as Total have pledged to cut these emissions as well.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Cutting-Tool Demand Slows Again, Amid Manufacturing Uncertainty

U.S. manufacturers’ consumption of cutting tools slipped -10.5% from October to November, totaling $144.3 million in the latest monthly report. The new figure is still 11.4% higher than the November 2020 total – demonstrating the ongoing improvement in the market since the recent low-point for domestic manufacturing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cutting-tool consumption is offered as a reliable index to overall manufacturing activity, because cutting tools are required in the production of a wide variety of parts and components supplied to a range of industrial sectors. 

Read more at American Machinist