Member Briefing February 21, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing ,

Examining Manufacturing’s Workforce Data 

Manufacturers should take note of key workforce data points including the rising median age of workers, the above-average quit rate during the pandemic and how the US stacks up against other developed economies in using industrial robots, writes Stephen Gold, president and CEO of Manufacturers Alliance.

“This is part of the challenge we face: with 2.5 million Boomers preparing to drop out of the manufacturing workforce in the coming years, the need for new talent becomes more pressing,” Gold writes.

Read more at IndustryWeek 


Expensive Containers Mean Shipping Costs Unlikely to Abate Soon

The worsening productivity and rising cost of shipping a container are sinking hopes that the world’s supply-chain problems will ease anytime soon. Shipping experts, economists and company executives say any end-of-year optimism that kinks in global supply chains would work themselves out in the first half of 2022 has faded. The plight of the average container offers a window into the snarled-up state of global supply chains. On a variety of measures, 20- and 40-foot steel containers—the workhorses of global commerce—aren’t skipping back and forth across the world as frequently as they were before the pandemic.

Ports in the U.S. and Europe are clogged and prices for moving goods around the world are rising. In Asia, congestion worsened in the run-up to the Lunar New Year as companies snapped up capacity to get goods sailing before factories shut for the holiday early this month.

Read more at the WSJ


The Direct Link Between Child Care and Women Workers

Women still disproportionately shoulder responsibilities for child care and are also likelier than men to take on child care duties while working from home. The gender gap in the Great Resignation is widest in states with the most child care disruptions, according to a report from payroll company Gusto. Nationally, 4.1% of women quit their jobs in January compared with 3.4% of men—a 0.7 percentage point difference.

But in Maine and Rhode Island—where around 45% of families reported COVID-related child care disruptions in the Census Household Pulse Survey—the gender gap swelled to 1.7 percentage points, Gusto found.  At the same time, in Missouri and Arizona—where less than 25% of households said child care was disrupted—the gender gap was close to zero.”  

Read more at Axios


Senate Passes CR to Keep Government Open Through March 11

Senators voted 65-27 on the bill, which funds the government through March 11 at current levels. The bill now goes to Biden, who is expected to sign it, after passing the House last week. The bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), buys lawmakers roughly three more weeks to try to work out a mammoth deal that would fund the government through the end of September.

The Senate’s passage of the funding bill comes after a days-long drama as senators tried to get a deal that would clear a path for the legislation. Because of the Senate’s rules, and the looming deadline, they needed buy-in from all 100 members to speed up the bill to meet the deadline.  Senators spent days haggling over what amendments would get votes. In the end they agreed on three: Two related to Biden’s vaccine mandates and a third from Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) on balancing the budget.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID – Cases, Hospitalizations, Deaths all Down

The US CDC is currently reporting 77.95 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 923,067 deaths. Daily incidence continues its sharp decline, down from a record high of 807,120 new cases per day on January 15 to 134,468 on February 15, an 83% decrease over 4 weeks. Average daily incidence is now below the peak of the previous wave. Daily mortality appears to have peaked on February 1 at 2,516 deaths per day, down to 2,100 on February 15.

The US has administered 677.8 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Daily vaccinations continue to decline, down from the most recent peak of 1.78 million doses per day on December 6 to 429,530 on February 11.  A total of 252.4 million individuals have received at least 1 vaccine dose, which corresponds to 76% of the entire US population. A total of 214 million individuals are fully vaccinated, which corresponds to 64.5% of the total population.

Read more at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update  – 

Vaccine Stats as of February 19:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 88.5% of all New Yorkers – 16,337,265 (plus 4,352 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,699,385  (plus 1,005).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 75.1% of all New Yorkers – 14,581,507 (plus 5,329).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,487,039 (plus 1,119). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 6,907,937
  • In the Hudson Valley – 828,930  

The Governor updated COVID data through February 19.  There were 39 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 68,628. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,745.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 460

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 2.36%    –   16.89 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 2.61%   –   15.02 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


COVID is Leaving Long-Term Mental Health Scars

Early COVID-19 survivors were at higher risk of anxiety, depression and a raft of other mental health problems up to a year after their infections, according to a large U.S. study that widens the scope of the pandemic’s economic and societal impact.

Even patients who were never sick enough to be hospitalized for COVID were still 68% more likely than their non-infected counterparts to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder, 69% more likely to have an anxiety disorder, and 77% more likely to have a depressive disorder. The relative risk of developing the conditions was significantly higher still in patients hospitalized for COVID, and translates into dozens of additional mental health conditions for every 1,000 coronavirus cases.

Read more at Fortune


Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids Isn’t Working Well Against Omicron So Far

U.S. health regulators delayed their review of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine in children under 5 years old because the initial two-dose series so far wasn’t working well against the Omicron variant during testing, people familiar with the decision said. An early look at data showed the vaccine to be effective against the Delta variant during testing while that was the dominant strain, but some vaccinated children developed Covid-19 after Omicron emerged, the people said.

So few study subjects, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, developed Covid-19 during testing thus far that the small number of Omicron cases made the vaccine appear less effective in an early statistical analysis, the people said. As more cases emerge, Pfizer’s shot might wind up providing stronger protection against Omicron, the people said, if the bulk of infections are in unvaccinated subjects.

Read more at the WSJ


WHO Tracks Subvariant, Updates Quarantine Guidelines

A subvariant of Omicron that appears to be even more contagious is on the rise and has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in a number of Asian countries, the World Health Organization reports, while WHO technical lead on COVID-19 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove warns that declines in testing for the virus may mean that global data doesn’t reflect the true spread of COVID-19.

The agency has updated its quarantine guidelines for areas with surging infection rates, suggesting that quarantine periods for asymptomatic patients may be shortened.

Read more at Reuters


Workers Have the Most to Lose From a Wage-Price Spiral

Monetary policymakers are scouring labour markets for signs that high inflation is getting baked into workers’ wage demands, indicating the start of a wage-price spiral. In the popular imagination workers are often canny first movers in a wage-price spiral, rather than its victims. Rising pay pushes up costs for firms, which then increase prices to protect profits. In part this is based on the experience of the late 1960s and 1970s, when union bosses negotiated inflation-busting pay increases for their members. 

In fact, high inflation often hurts workers. Over the past year inflation has been higher than wage growth in every G7 country, despite widespread labour shortages. Unions are much less powerful today than they were in the 1970s and scholars typically find that prices lead wages, rather than vice versa. Even in the 1970s many workers suffered from the wage-price spiral. In that decade American wages grew only half as fast as workers’ productivity, just as today wages are yet to catch up with such gains.

Read more at The Economist


New York Won’t Enforce COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Mandate for Health Care Workers

New York on Friday announced it would not enforce the state’s COVID-19 vaccine booster mandate for health care workers amid concerns over possible staffing issues.  Last month, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced that the state would require all health care workers to get a COVID-19 booster as the state faced a surge of infections. That mandate was set to go into effect on today.

However, New York state officials acknowledged on Friday the requirement could lead to staffing shortages and said they would not enforce it, though they would reassess booster vaccination progress among health care workers in three months to see if new steps needed to be employed.

Read more at The Hill


As Omicron Recedes, People Head Back to Work, Census Data Show

New Census Bureau data released Wednesday show that the number of people who were out of work because they were sick or caring for someone who was sick fell to 7.8 million in late January and early February, down from almost 8.8 million in early January.

The data offer an encouraging sign that more people could be returning to work in the near future, as the Omicron wave further abates. Almost one million people between the ages of 25 and 54 joined the workforce in January, according to the Labor Department, a sharp rise that came in a month when the Omicron variant was raging. The labor-force participation rate, which measures the share of people either working or actively looking for work, rose to 62.2% in January, the highest level since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Read more at the WSJ


U.S. Home Sales Jumped 6.7% in January Amid Record-Low Inventory

Existing-home sales rose 6.7% in January from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.5 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday, with home sales increasing in regions across the country. January sales fell 2.3% from a year earlier.  The housing market remains extremely competitive. Rising mortgage-interest rates in recent weeks have prompted buyers to move quickly in case rates climb further, real-estate agents say. 

Still, the shortage of homes on the market is holding back the number of sales, economists say. On top of that, some buyers have been pushed to the sidelines as rising home prices and higher interest rates have made homeownership less affordable.

Read more at the WSJ


Come What May – Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act Aims to Move New York off Fossil Fuels

In 2019, the New York state Legislature passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CLCPA. The law mandates that the state reach certain climate goals within the next few years. In order to do that, New York needs to replace gas and other fossil fuels with electricity powered by hydro, solar and wind. 

To move the state in that direction, state Sens. Liz Krueger and Rachel May, along with state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, have introduced the “Gas Transition and Affordable Energy Act” would reform the public service law, which currently mandates gas companies to provide all customers who want a gas hook-up to get one. The other major aspect of the bill is that it would require the Public Service Commission to come up with a plan to transition away from fossil fuels.

Read more at Spectrum News


Queen Elizabeth II Tests Positive for COVID-19 Experiencing Mild Symptoms

The monarch is experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms” but expects to continue “light duties” at Windsor over the coming week, the palace said. “She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines,” it added in a statement.

The positive test comes days before England is expected to drop the legal requirement to self-isolate for those who catch Covid, as the last virus restrictions are set to be removed. Outlining the thinking behind the government’s upcoming “living with Covid” plans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC it was time to “shift the balance away from state mandation” and said the public can “get their confidence back”.

Read more at the BBC