Member Briefing December 22, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

Hochul Signs Pay Transparency, Warehouse Worker Protection Bills into Law

Governor Kathy Hochul yesterday signed legislation (S.9427-A/A.10477) establishing a statewide pay transparency law in New York State, requiring employers to list salary ranges for all advertised jobs and promotions. The legislation requires employers to list salary ranges in advertisements or postings for job opportunities and promotions. The disclosures required by this law will “empower workers with critical information, reduce discriminatory wage-setting and hiring practices, and help level the playing field for all workers,” according to the Governor’s Press Release. The law takes effect September 17, 2023.

The Warehouse Worker Protection Act (S. 8922A/A.10020A) the Governor signed will institute new requirements for distribution centers to disclose work speed data to current and former employees to inform workers about their performance and their rights in the workplace. The legislation also protects workers from adverse employment actions, such as disciplinary action or firing, exclusively because of a failure to meet undisclosed speed quotes or quotas that do not allow for proper breaks.

Zelenskyy Makes Historic Address to Joint Session of Congress

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy landed in the U.S. on Wednesday morning in what is his first known trip outside his home country since Russia invaded the now war-torn nation in February. U.S. President Joe Biden and Zelenskyy met at the White House for a bilateral meeting between high-ranking officials from both nations. Later the Ukrainian leader gave a rousing and historic 32-minute address to U.S. lawmakers at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night.

“Against all odds and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn’t fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking,” Zelenskyy said to a loud round of applause and several standing ovations. “The battle is not only for life, freedom and security of Ukrainians or any other nation which Russia attempts to conquer,” he said, “the struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live.” He also quoted FDR from his “Day of Infamy speech to a joint session of congress in 1941: ‘No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.’

Read more at CNBC

More War in Ukraine Headlines

U.S. Home Sales Dropped 7.7% in November, a Record 10th Straight Month of Declines

Sales of previously owned homes declined 7.7% in November from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.09 million, the weakest rate since May 2020, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. November sales fell 35.4% from a year earlier. The streak of declines is the longest on record in data going back to 1999, NAR said. Existing-home sales have dropped about 37% from their recent peak in January. Mortgage rates surged to above 7% in early November from 3.1% at the end of 2021. That boosted expected mortgage payments for many buyers by hundreds of dollars a month, driving many shoppers out of the market.

Home prices have declined from their springtime peaks around the U.S., and prices in some markets have slipped below year-ago levels. But on a national basis, prices are still up from last year, largely because the supply of homes for sale remains lower than normal.

Read more at The WSJ

Manufacturing Execs Expect Growth in 2023 After a Slow Start

Manufacturing executives are optimistic that the industry is set for growth next year despite a slowdown in 2022, according to a recent forecast from the Institute for Supply Management. Forty-five percent of purchasing and supply manufacturing executives expect 2023 to bring overall improved revenues compared to 2022, the survey found. Executives expect a slow start to the year, however, with growth not returning until the second half.

Revenues are expected to increase for 15 out of 18 manufacturing industries, led by plastics and rubber products; transportation equipment; and apparel, leather and allied products. Executives anticipate a 5.5% net increase in overall revenues in 2023, compared to a 9.3% increase reported for 2022. Raw material prices are expected to keep climbing by 2.5% in the first five months of next year, with an overall increase of 2% for 2023.

Read more at Manufacturing Dive

U.S. COVID Update - US Deaths Fell This Year, But Not to Pre-COVID Levels

The number of U.S. deaths dropped this year, but there are still more than there were before the coronavirus hit. Preliminary data — through the first 11 months of the year — indicates 2022 will see fewer deaths than the previous two COVID-19 pandemic years. Current reports suggest deaths may be down about 3% from 2020 and about 7% vs. 2021.

U.S. deaths usually rise year-to-year, in part because the nation’s population has been growing. The pandemic accelerated that trend, making last year the deadliest in U.S. history, with more than 3.4 million dying. If current trends continue, this year will mark the first annual decline in deaths since 2009. It will be months before health officials have a full tally. The October and November numbers are not yet complete and a late-December surge could change the final picture, said Farida Ahmad, who leads mortality surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more at The AP

5 Foreign Currency Market Risks Manufacturers Need To Prepare For

Global manufacturers operating in multiple markets around the world are facing an especially complex FX landscape. the value of the dollar has soared this year, spending much of its time at its highest levels in 20 years against many currencies. The rapid and seemingly relentless appreciation of the U.S. currency, combined with FX volatility, has created significant challenges for U.S. manufacturers who import materials from foreign suppliers and for those who sell their finished products to customers abroad. The identification of exposures is the best place to start because understanding where there is currency risk is critically important to the establishment of effective strategy.

Companies who pay for their imports in foreign currency should evaluate their decision on when and why they might opt to hedge and when not to hedge, while those paying foreign suppliers in U.S. dollars should be taking steps to renegotiate with suppliers who’ve not improved their pricing or have been slow to do so.  The same is true for U.S. manufacturers who sell their products internationally.

Read more at IndustryWeek

What’s In and What’s Out of Congress’ $1.7T Spending Bill

The year-end spending package that Congress is rushing to pass this week does more than fund the government through September. It’s also chock full of policy provisions that affect everything from the lobster industry to TikTok to professional sports. The $1.7 trillion government funding measure is the last major must-pass bill on the legislative docket before the start of the 118th Congress in January, when divided government and a looming 2024 presidential election will make legislating even harder than it currently is. That makes the spending bill a magnet for members trying to cram in their priorities just before the holidays.

Here’s a look at what’s in and what’s out of the spending plan.

Read more at Politico

Congress Fails to Take Up Manufacturing Priorities in Spending Bill

The NAM is calling on policymakers to provide much-needed tax fixes that were not included in the omnibus spending package. These include reversing a tax change that would make R&D much more expensive for manufacturers, hampering their ability to invest and grow. “Congress’ failure to reverse tax policies that make it more costly to perform research, buy machinery and finance job-creating investments has put hundreds of thousands of American jobs and manufacturing competitiveness at risk,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons in a statement.

Timmons noted that “the appropriations package included important manufacturing priorities, including the INFORM Consumers Act, with its protections for consumers against counterfeit goods, and the Electoral Count Reform Act, which supports a clear and secure democratic process.”However, he stressed that “pro-competitiveness tax policy changes would have made a big difference for businesses of all sizes across our industry.”

Read more at The NAM

Americans’ Self-Assessment of Mental Health Lowest in Two Decades: Gallup

Just 31 percent of Americans classify their mental health or emotional well-being as excellent, marking a new historic low by three percentage points. That’s according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday based on a Nov. 9-Dec. 2 survey. Another 44 percent of respondents considered their mental health “good.” Combined, the 75 percent of Americans who consider their mental health good or excellent marks the lowest on record, while 17 percent say their mental health is just fair.

The remaining seven percent who say they have poor mental health is also the highest total recorded since 2001. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a mental health crisis was emerging among young Americans. However, the immense social changes brought on by the pandemic exacerbated these rates, and led to increased feelings of depression and anxiety among U.S. adults as well.

Read more at The Hill

White House Looks at Benefits to Lure Americans Back Into Workforce

Top White House economic officials are considering a renewed push for a suite of policies aimed at luring more Americans back to work, including enhanced child- care and eldercare benefits, as they hammer out priorities for the coming year. The question of how to find enough workers has emerged as a significant issue as the country emerges from the pandemic, with a smaller share of adults working or looking for work than in early 2020.

The White House has previously pushed for paid family leave, universal prekindergarten and permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit as part of its Build Back Better agenda, which stalled after it was opposed by Republicans. Some Republicans have offered their own plans to ease child-care burdens, though the party hasn’t coalesced around one idea. Many conservatives have said that enhancing benefits would do little to nudge Americans back to work and would instead encourage them to stay home.

Read more at The WSJ

Outside Income Limit for New York Lawmakers Sparks Debate

A cap on outside income for members of the state Legislature needs to go further than the provisions proposed in a broader bill to raise legislative pay to $142,000 a year, good-government organizations on Tuesday said. Watchdog groups including Reinvent Albany, the New York Public Interest Research Group, Citizens Union, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, believe the limits do not go far enough when it comes to limiting potential influence.  "Unfortunately, the bill does not prohibit outside income from entities where the legislator would have a fiduciary responsibility to a client," the groups said in a joint statement.

Lawmakers have argued that retaining private-sector experience is key for a citizen-run Legislature. Members of the Legislature in the recent past have come from varying walks of life, including funeral home directors, dentists, farmers and pharmacists.

Read more at NY State of Politics

“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” - Pay Raise for New York Lawmakers Stirs Calls for Further Action

State lawmakers' plans to return Thursday to vote for a measure to raise their pay by $32,000 is leading to calls for further action on measures that would also increase the minimum wage, extend a gas tax holiday into the new year and provide support for home heating assistance. It's the give-a-mouse-a-cookie rule of New York politics: If you hold a special session, a few more glasses of milk are going to be sought.

Governors in the past have leveraged pay raises for lawmakers to advanced their agenda. In 1998, then-Gov. George Pataki was able to win an expansion of charter schools in New York as legislative pay increased. The session is expected to see the approval of a bill to raise legislative pay from $110,000 to $142,000, making New York lawmakers the highest paid state Legislature in the country. The proposal also includes new limits on how much lawmakers can earn outside of their jobs as elected officials.

Read more at NY State of Politics

SUNY New Paltz Awarded $1.25 Million Mid-Hudson Business Incubator

SUNY New Paltz will be receiving a state grant of $250,000 per year for five years to serve as an Innovation Hot Spot, or business incubator, for the Mid-Hudson region. The grant recognizes the college’s School of Business’ Hudson Valley Venture Hub and its years of service as a resource hub for the regional startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Venture Hub brings resources from the college’s science & engineering and business schools as well as other resources to bear to help emerging businesses prosper.

The new funding and status as the region’s Innovation Hot Spot will allow the Venture Hub to continue and expand its efforts, both in scale and in geographic reach. “We want to be a part of growing strong companies and jobs for New York’s future, by connecting entrepreneurs across the Mid-Hudson Valley region to the support, mentorship and investment they need, when they need it,” said Eliza Edge, director of the Hudson Valley Venture Hob.

Read more at Mid-Hudson News

U.S. Consumer Confidence Rebounds

U.S. consumer confidence rose to an eight-month high in December as inflation retreated and the labor market remained strong, but fears of a recession persisted, resulting in fewer households planning to make big-ticket purchases over the next six months. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index increased to 108.3 this month, the highest reading since April, from 101.4 in November. The rebound in confidence matched a similar rise in the University of Michigan's sentiment index.

"Consumers may be more confident than they were over the summer months, but they are still exhibiting more caution than was apparent in 2021," said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, North Carolina. Consumers' 12-month inflation expectations fell to 6.7%, the lowest since September 2021, from 7.1% last month. The improvement, which mostly reflected lower gasoline prices, was in line with recent data showing consumer prices increasing moderately in November.

Read more at Reuters

Boeing Prepares Supply Chain for Global Recovery

Ihssane Mounir will lead Boeing Commercial Airplanes' effort to integrate its internal fabrication and 1,200 external suppliers as the company positions to meet resurgent demand. "As an industry, while we are seeing strong indications of global market resilience and recovery, we are still working to drive stability and predictability in our factories," said CEO Stan Deal. Mounir has been named senior vice president of global supply chain. He was previously senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing.

During an unusually long six-year stint as sales chief, Mounir helped steer Boeing through the twin crises of fatal crashes that led to the grounding of the 737 MAX and the COVID-19 pandemic - a period during which rival Airbus SE (AIR.PA) emerged as largest planemaker by number of deliveries. He made headlines in 2019 with a tentative sale of 200 MAX to British Airways owner IAG (ICAG.L) , stealing the Paris Airshow from Airbus in a deal seen as a rescue package for the floundering jetliner just as Boeing was sliding into a two-year crisis.

Read more at Reuters

Empire Center: Scoping Plan Doesn’t Secure Reliable Electricity for New York

The Climate Action Council’s approval Monday of a Scoping Plan for implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CCLPA) doesn’t solve — or even address — the state’s looming problem with energy reliability.  The CLCPA requires the state to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and achieve 100 percent emissions-free electricity production by 2040. Currently the state gets about 30 percent of its electricity from renewables, and just over half from emissions-free sources (mostly hydropower and nuclear). So even if electricity demand remained steady, New York would need to more than double its renewable electricity generation capacity in just eight years.

But the reality is worse. Because the state will be mandating zero-emission vehicles – mostly electric cars – after 2035, and because the Scoping Plan calls for dramatic growth in the electrification of space heating after 2030, electricity demand is expected to almost triple. The Plan itself notes the need for “a three-fold increase in generating capacity between now and 2040.”

Read more at The Empire Center