Member Briefing August 8, 2022
Senate Passes Democrats’ Climate, Healthcare and Tax Bill
The Senate passed a bill spending hundreds of billions of dollars on climate and healthcare programs while raising taxes on large, profitable companies, as Democrats unified around elements of President Biden’s agenda after a year of frustrated efforts to advance a broader package.
The legislation, which passed the Senate 51-50 on Sunday with a tiebreaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris, offers tax incentives for reducing carbon emissions, seeks to allow Medicare to negotiate the price of some prescription drugs, allots roughly $80 billion to the Internal Revenue Service and extends subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The package now heads to House of Representatives where it is expected to pass, then on to President Biden who supports the legislation.
War in Ukraine Headlines
- Ukraine and Russia: the Latest News – The Guardian
- North Korea offering 100,000 troops to help defeat Ukraine, Russian state media says – Yahoo
- Four more grain ships leave Ukraine as hopes grow for export stability – BBC
- Russia readies for southern offensive as alarm raised over shelling of nuclear plant – Guardian
- Amnesty regrets ‘distress’ caused by report rebuking Ukraine – Reuters
- Putin massing more Russian forces for ‘new assault’ on southern Ukraine, UK warns – The Independent
- Map – Tracking Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Live Universal Awareness Map
US Job Growth Spikes, Manufacturing Hits its Highest Levels Since 2019
U.S. job growth surged in July, as the economy added a surprising 528,000 positions, defying all expectations of a slowdown, according to official data Friday. Meanwhile, wages jumped—with average hourly earnings up 15 cents over June—which will surely add to inflation concerns, as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates aggressively to cool the economy amid the highest price gains in more than 40 years.
In manufacturing, employment increased by 30,000 in July. Durable goods companies added 21,000 jobs with gains in semiconductors and electronic components and miscellaneous durable goods. With 12.9 million people employed in manufacturing, the industry hit its highest rate since August 2019 Employment in manufacturing is 41,000 above its pre-pandemic February 2020 level. Despite that strong manufacturing hiring, there are signs that companies still can’t find enough people. Overtime increased by slightly to 3.3 hours per week in the sector.
Jobs Report to Keep Fed on Aggressive Tightening Path
The July jobs report defied expectations of an economic slowdown and will make it harder for the Federal Reserve to dial back the pace of rate increases at its meeting next month. The Fed raised rates by 0.75 percentage point at its meeting last week, following a similar increase in June, which was the largest since 1994. “Another unusually large increase could be appropriate at our next meeting,” but the decision “will depend on the data we get between now and then,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a July 27 news conference.
Some Fed officials have suggested the central bank might raise rates by a half percentage point in September, and financial market participants have run with the idea that the central bank would soon slow its rate rises. But that depends crucially on a slowdown in economic activity, especially hiring, and Friday’s report offered no such signal. Since last week’s Fed meeting, labor market data suggests wages have been even stronger than earlier reported, while hiring has been brisk.
U.S. COVID – Slow Decline in Cases
The US CDC is reporting 91.5 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 1,026,723 deaths. The current 7-day moving average of new daily cases is down slightly over last week, dropping to 119,034 on August 2. The average daily mortality remains relatively stable, at 387 on August 2. Both new hospital admissions (-1.7% over the past week) and current hospitalizations (-0.4%) remained relatively stable over the previous week, possibly reflecting the slight decrease in daily incidence.
Community transmission in the US is primarily driven by the Omicron BA.5 sublineage. BA.5 is now projected to account for 85.5% of sequenced specimens. The BA.4 sublineage accounts for about 7.7% of cases, while the newly delineated BA.4.6 accounts for 4.1% of cases and appears to represent a growing proportion of BA.4 sublineages. Together, BA.2.12.1 and BA.2 now account for only about 2.7% of cases. According to the data, Omicron variants represent all new cases in the US.
NYS COVID Update
The Governor updated COVID data through August 5th.
- Daily: 20
- Total Reported to CDC: 73,028
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,550
- Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 224
7 Day Average Positivity Rate – Cases per 100K population
- Statewide 8.59% – 31.54 positive cases per 100,00 population
- Mid-Hudson: 9.15% – 30.68 positive cases per 100,00 population
COVID Cases Drop 9% Globally Last Week, Deaths Stable
New coronavirus cases fell 9% globally last week while deaths remained stable, according to the latest weekly assessment of the pandemic released Wednesday by the World Health Organization. The U.N. health agency said there were 6.5 million cases reported last week with more than 14,000 deaths. WHO said the number of new cases fell 35% in Europe but increased about 20% in the Western Pacific and 5% in Africa. Deaths rose 44% in the Western Pacific and 26% in the Middle East, while falling about a quarter in Europe.
WHO has previously warned that recent surveillance of COVID-19 has been severely compromised by countries reducing their testing, reporting and other coronavirus alert systems. The agency has said COVID-19 figures are likely being significantly underestimated, which could make it more difficult to spot any worrisome new variants.