Member Briefing February 8, 2022

Posted By: Harold King All Newsletters ,

Manufacturing Labor Productivity Falls while Factory Orders Decline

Manufacturing labor productivity continued its ongoing slide during the fourth quarter, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing labor productivity fell 0.8% in the fourth quarter at the annual rate, extending the 2.6% decline in the third quarter.

  • Output rose 4.8% in the fourth quarter, continuing to reflect solid growth in demand for goods despite ongoing challenges with supply chain and workforce issues.
  • However, real hourly compensation decreased 4.5% in the fourth quarter, pulling the headline figure lower.
  • Unit labor costs for manufacturers increased 4.2% in the fourth quarter.
  • For the year, manufacturing labor productivity increased 3.1%, the strongest annual increase since 2010, another year with strong rebounds in activity.
  • Labor productivity for durable goods increased 0.8% in the fourth quarter, with output rising 3.9% but with real hourly compensation declining 3.8%.
  • At the same time, labor productivity for nondurable goods decreased 3.7% in the fourth quarter, with output jumping 5.7%
  • but with real hourly compensation dropping 5.1%. Unit labor costs for durable and nondurable goods rose 3.3% and 6.7% in the fourth quarter, respectively.”

Read more at the Bureau of Labor Statistics


Statewide COVID Infection Rate lowest Since Omicron Named Variant of Concern

New York state’s COVID-19 infection rate is now at 3.5%, the lowest since omicron was named a variant of concern by world health officials, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sunday. According to the latest numbers released by the governor’s office, statewide hospitalizations dropped by 319 over the past day, after declining 345 on Saturday, while 5,147 residents remain hospitalized. On Sunday, 68 new COVID-related deaths were announced. 

As of data provided Sunday, the North Country’s seven-day average positivity rate of 11.09% is the highest in the state, followed by Central New York at 9.65% and Western New York at 8.76%. The region of the state with the lowest seven-day average positivity rate is currently New York City, with a reported 2.93% rate.

Read more at NY1


China’s Slowdown to Limit Global Growth but Not Undermine World Economy

A prolonged slowdown in China’s economic growth could hurt some multinational companies and commodity producers for years to come, casting a shadow over the global recovery from the pandemic—but likely not derailing it entirely. But one potential silver lining of the slowdown, economists say, could be a reduction in global inflationary pressures.

Sputtering momentum in China’s economy—which accounts for about 15% of global trade and a quarter of projected global economic growth in the five years through 2026—is already weighing on prices for commodities like iron ore, and making it harder for some companies to grow their businesses there.

Read more at the WSJ


Short-Term Government Funding Bill Introduced

House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Monday introduced a short-term bill that would allow the government to remain funded through early March and temporarily stave off a government shutdown. The legislation comes as top negotiators on Capitol Hill have struggled for months to reach a bipartisan agreement on government funding for fiscal 2022, which began at the start of October.

“We are close to reaching a framework government funding agreement, but we will need additional time to complete the legislation in full,” DeLauro said in a statement introducing the continuing resolution.  “This Continuing Resolution – the product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiation – extends funding through March 11 to keep government up and running while Congress completes our important work,” she added.

Read more at The Hill


US COVID- Evidence Builds That U.S. Omicron Wave Is Waning as Cases Fall

Evidence mounted that the Covid-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant is waning in the U.S. as a downturn in cases and hospitalizations continued over the weekend and deaths of people diagnosed with the disease appear to have stopped climbing. Recorded infections have shown a sharp fall, with the seven-day average of new cases on Sunday dropping below 300,000 daily for the first time this year, data from Johns Hopkins University show. A week earlier, the seven-day daily case average was over 500,000.

The seven-day average of people in the hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 fell below 120,000 on Sunday, the lowest figure since Jan. 6, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. The figure peaked at more than 159,000 on Jan. 20.

Read more at the WSJ


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update  – Hospitalizations Continue to Drop

Vaccine Stats as of February 7:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 88.0% of all New Yorkers – 16,250,478 (plus 6,273 from a day earlier).
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,688,591  (plus 816).

Fully Vaccinated

  • 74.6% of all New Yorkers – 14,466,349   (plus 7.874).
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,474,172  (plus 716). 

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 6,624,136
  • In the Hudson Valley – 793,248   

The Governor updated COVID data through February 7.  There were 90 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 67,222. 

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 5,069.
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 814

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 4.48%    –   36.81 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 4.53%   –   30.88 positive  cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Study Suggests Omicron-specific Booster May Not Provide More Protection

A new study conducted in primates suggests there may not be a benefit from updating Covid-19 vaccines to target the Omicron variant at this time. The work, by scientists at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s Vaccine Research Center, shows that animals boosted with the original vaccine had similar levels of protection against disease in the lungs as did primates that received an updated booster based on the Omicron strain.

The work was done with Moderna’s licensed vaccine and a booster shot based on the Omicron variant. Study of blood from the animals showed that many of the measurable immune responses — rises in neutralizing antibody levels, for instance — were not substantially different, regardless of which booster shot they were given.

Read more at STAT News


Department of Health Provides Self-Attesting Quarantine and Isolation Forms for COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law Eligibility

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has made available on its website self-attesting quarantine and isolation forms that employees may use to demonstrate eligibility for the state’s COVID-19 quarantine leave law or for other purposes in which they must verify quarantine or isolation for themselves or their child/dependent (such as for return to school purposes).

Previously, the law required employees seeking protected leave due to COVID-19 be subject to an order of quarantine or isolation issued by the State of New York, a state or local health department, or any other governmental entity. Now, however, employees can provide a self-attestation form rather than obtain an order of quarantine or isolation from a government entity or treating healthcare provider.


Australia to Reopen to Vaccinated International Travelers this Month, First Time in 2 Years

Australia will open its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers from late February, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday after a meeting of the government’s national security committee.

Australia, which has been closed to most travelers since early 2020, has been slowly easing its restrictions since November through travel programs with New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

Read more at CNN


Industrial Production in Germany Falls in December

German industrial production dipped in December, official data showed on Monday, as supply chain bottlenecks and a drop in construction hampered Europe’s largest economy at the end of last year. The Federal Statistics Office said the country’s industrial output fell by 0.3% on the month after an upwardly revised increase of 0.3% in November.

Production in 2021 was 3.0% higher than in 2020 and 5.5% lower than in the pre-crisis year 2019, the office said. The German economy expanded by 2.8% last year, compared with 7% in neighboring France, exposing Germany’s vulnerability to the supply chain bottlenecks holding back the manufacturing sector that forms its export-oriented backbone.

Read more at Reuters


U.S. Readies New Asia-Pacific Economic Strategy to Counter China

The Biden administration is preparing to unveil its first broad economic strategy for the Asia-Pacific region. With the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the U.S. aims to work more closely with friendly nations on issues including digital trade, supply chains and green technology. The framework is aimed at filling the hole in U.S. Asia strategy left by its 2017 departure from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a robust trade agreement the U.S. had helped to design as a counterweight to China.

While details of the plan have yet to be released, the framework isn’t expected to try to return the U.S. to the TPP. A cross-section of economists, diplomats and trade experts say the administration faces a battle in creating an effective pact that brings together many of Asia’s economies to set the rules of engagement for commerce and new technology. The framework is expected to be unveiled “within weeks,” Sarah Bianchi, deputy U.S. Trade Representative for the Asia-Pacific region, said at a recent trade conference.

Read more at the WSJ


Frontier, Spirit Airlines Merge in $6.6B Deal

Frontier will purchase a majority stake in Spirit for $6.6 billion in a deal that will further consolidate the airline industry. The airlines said that they needed to join forces to compete with the four largest airlines that control the vast majority of the U.S. market and argued that the merger will save consumers money. 

The newly formed airline, which does not yet have a new name, plans to aggressively expand in the coming years by continuing the firms’ low-fare business model. Frontier and Spirit had a combined 5.4 percent market share in 2019, up from 2.8 percent in 2013, according to the Department of Transportation. 

Read more at The Hill


New Jersey and Delaware — Phasing Our School Mask Requirements

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat who has imposed some of the nation’s most stringent pandemic-related mandates, will no longer require students and school employees to wear masks, signaling a deliberate shift toward treating the coronavirus as a part of daily life.” For the first time since the start of the pandemic, New Jersey districts will be permitted to allow students and teachers to stop wearing masks.

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) is also updating his state’s mask mandate, including phasing out required masks in schools on March 31. The new mask policy in New Jersey will take effect the second week in March.

Read more at the New York Times


Union Vote at GM Mexico Plant Hailed as ‘Win’ for Workers

Workers at a General Motors factory in Mexico have elected an independent union — a step hailed as a victory for labor rights helped by a revamped North American trade agreement.

The United States had in May asked Mexico to investigate claims of “serious violations” of worker rights during a previous union vote at the GM plant in Silao in the state of Guanajuato. The latest vote in Silao was won overwhelmingly by the National Independent Union of Workers of the Automotive Industry (SINTTIA), which secured the support of 4,192 of the roughly 6,200 workers entitled to participate.

The Mexican government previously suspended the election following allegations of irregularities, in a country where unions have long been accused of shady backroom deals with employers. It was Washington’s first formal complaint under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement on July 1, 2020. The new agreement requires the three countries to guarantee worker rights to collective bargaining, union democracy and freedom of association.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Ottawa Declares a State of Emergency Over Truckers’ Growing Anti-Government Protests

The so-called “Freedom Convoy” that arrived in Ottawa more than a week ago to protest the Canadian government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers has been honking horns, blocking downtown streets and disturbing residential neighborhoods. Mayor Jim Watson told the CBC that the emergency declaration will help police and city staff get the resources they need faster.

Protestors faced little pushback from law enforcement until this weekend, when officials in the Canadian capital ramped up their response by ticketing protesters, confiscating their fuel and declaring a state of emergency.

Read more at NPR