Member Briefing June 6, 2023

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

Manufacturing Sector Details from Last Week’s Jobs Report

Manufacturing employment edged down by 2,000 in May. The sector has added just 10,000 workers year to date, slowing materially after adding a very robust 385,000 and 390,000 employees in 2021 and 2022, respectively. More positively, there were 12,984,000 manufacturing employees in May, or just shy of the 12,988,000 in February, which was the most since November 2008. In addition, the average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers in manufacturing rose 0.6% to $26.19 in May, with 4.9% growth over the past 12 months.

There were 676,000 manufacturing job openings in April, the lowest level since February 2021. In contrast, nonfarm business job openings rose to 10,103,000 in April, once again exceeding 10 million following two months of weaker data. For every 100 job openings in the U.S. economy, there were 56.0 unemployed workers in April.

Read more at The BLS

War in Ukraine Headlines


Hochul: 125,000 New York High School Seniors Will be Automatically Accepted to SUNY Community Colleges this Fall

About 125,000 New York high school students will receive a letter notifying them they’ve been automatically accepted to the State University of New York’s community college programs, the state’s governor announced Thursday. The move is part of an effort to eliminate barriers toward higher education, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said in a news release. SUNY will send letters “in the coming days” to graduating students in the state who are outside of New York City confirming their acceptance at a local community college, the release said.

Of course, the 29 participating SUNY community colleges are already known for accepting anyone with a high school diploma who applies. Still, officials say that the personalized letters make it abundantly clear to students that there is a place for them at the college, according to officials. That’s especially important for students who’ve long been underrepresented in the higher education space.

Read more at City & State

Renewable Developers In New York, Pinched by Inflation, to Ask for Increased Subsidies

Developers of new renewable energy projects in New York are poised to request bigger payouts for already-contracted projects the state is counting on to hit its climate targets. The request is expected to cite recent inflation and other challenges for projects that have already received contracts from NYSERDA and ask for an “inflation adjustment” — increased payments — for onshore renewables.

The ask from the developers throws into question the state’s pipeline of renewable energy projects, which state officials have pointed to as evidence that New York is on track to reach 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. The 70 percent mandate was set in the state’s climate law passed in 2019, and the state began awarding contracts for new large-scale solar and wind developments even before that. But projects have faced significant hurdles in getting built including permitting and connections to the power grid.

Read more at Politico

COVID News: High Concentrations of COVID Detected at all 14 New York City Wastewater Treatment Plants

Nearly all of the 14 wastewater treatments plants in the city are currently in the "high" detection level category, meaning likely 50 or more cases per 100,000 people, according to the NYS Wastewater Surveillance Network dashboard, which was updated Friday. What's more, two-week trend data shows that just three of the plants are seeing decreases in virus detection. Reported case numbers have not jumped. But fewer people are getting tested than earlier in the pandemic, so case numbers are a less reliable indicator of COVID-19 spread.

"Wastewater data can be a very helpful indicator of what is taking place," said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation office at Boston Children's Hospital. "Now, it's an indication of the level of virus that people might be shedding, but it's not 100% related to the amount of illness people are experiencing." He continued, "Because with the significant amount of immunity from previous infections, from vaccination, there may be community transmission, but it may be asymptomatic and so what wastewater can't tell you is actually the severity of the cases in the community."'

Read more at ABC News

Fortune Releases Top 500 for the 69th Time - Walmart Tops the List

The Fortune 500 has remained the iconic corporate ranking that companies strive for and celebrate. A few things to note about this year’s list:

  • Oil companies are back after falling significantly in recent years. ExxonMobil nabs the No. 3 spot, up from No. 6 last year, besting Apple (No. 4). And Chevron nudges its way back onto the top ten (No. 10, up from No. 16).
  • Health care is eating the world (or at least the Fortune 500). UnitedHealth lands at No. 5 again, besting CVS at No. 6, while drug distributor McKesson is No. 9 and its competitor AmerisourceBergen sits at No. 11.
  • Texas rules, serving as home to the most Fortune 500 companies (55) for the second year in a row, leading California (53) and New York (50).
  • Women are rising—but slowly. 52 women run Fortune 500 companies, up from 44 at this time last year, putting their share over 10% for the first time ever. There are also more Black CEOs running Fortune 500 companies than ever before—but still only eight.

Read more at PR Wire

Power Blackouts Hit Vietnam's Manufacturing Hubs

Vietnam's rolling power cuts have hit industrial parks in the country's northern provinces where top global manufacturers such as Foxconn and Samsung have factories, officials said on Monday, as a surge in consumption amid a heatwave stretched the power supply system. The frequent and often unannounced power cuts prompted EuroCham, which represents European companies in the country, to send a letter on Monday to the industry and trade ministry urging quick measures to address the emergency.

Some industrial parks in the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang have been facing blackouts, said two local investment officials, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to media.  The provinces house production facilities of Samsung Electronics, Foxconn, Canon Inc and Luxshare, among others.

Read more at Yahoo

German Trade Surplus Climbs in April, Tops Estimates

Germany’s trade surplus climbed unexpectedly on month in April as exports rose and imports fell, a sign of increased foreign demand for German goods at the start of the second quarter. The country’s adjusted trade surplus—the balance of exports and imports of goods—climbed to 18.4 billion euros ($19.71 billion) in April, compared with a revised EUR14.9 billion in March, data from the country’s statistics office Destatis showed Monday.

In April, exports ticked up 1.2% on month on a calendar and seasonally adjusted basis to EUR130.4 billion, reflecting improved global demand for German manufacturing goods, as the country looks to exit the recession it suffered in the fourth quarter of 2022 and the first of this year. However, imports declined 1.7% to EUR112.0 billion, a sign that domestic economic issues could be weighing. The country receiving the most German exports in April was the U.S., with exports there rising 4.7% on month, Destatis said. Exports to China increased 10.1%.

Read more at The WSJ

Small Businesses Can Learn from Amazon’s Firm Stance on Return-to-Office Policy

Amazon employees recently protested against the company’s directive to return to office work, expressing concerns over the impact on their family lives and the benefits of remote work. Despite this, Amazon remains firm, maintaining that the policy has been good for the workplace and company. As small business owners navigate the complexities of remote and in-person work in the post-pandemic world, Amazon’s experience provides valuable insight.

While employee resistance was evident, according to Fortune, Amazon managed to move forward with their plan, underlining the importance of clear communication and decisive leadership in effecting significant policy changes. Amazon also acknowledged the adjustment period necessary for such transitions, stressing the efforts made to ease this process for employees.

Read more at Small Business Trends

NYS Lactation Accommodation Requirements Rules Take Effect Tomorrow, June 7th.

On December 9, 2022, New York State amended the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act to provide additional specifications for lactation rooms and to impose new written policy requirements on all employers. The new requirements will take effect on June 7, 2023. Since 2007, Employers already must provide a lactation room or location in close proximity to an employee’s work area. 

Under the new law, employers must provide a location for employees to express milk that is: (1) in close proximity to the work area; (2) well lit; (3) shielded from view; and (4) free from intrusion from other persons.  The designated room or location cannot be a restroom or toilet stall. The designated location must include the following: (1) a chair; (2) a working surface; (3) nearby access to clean running water; and, if the workplace has electricity, (4) an electrical outlet.  Additionally, if the employer’s workplace has access to refrigeration, employees must be allowed access to refrigeration to store pumped milk. 

Read the FAQs at the DOL website

Ford Sues Blue Cross, Accusing Insurer of Price Fixing that Led to ‘Astronomical Profits’

Blue Cross Blue Shield conspired to fix prices for health insurance, Ford Motor Co. alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Detroit last Wednesday. Ford claims in the suit that various Blue Cross insurers divided up territory and fixed prices in ways that reduced competition and violated antitrust laws, leading to “astronomical profits” and “extraordinary salaries” for its executives.

The lawsuit seeks to bar Blue Cross Blue Shield’s alleged anticompetitive conduct, as well as triple damages and other remedies. The lawsuit says Ford spent more than $500 million on full insurance premiums between 2009 and 2013 and more than $150 million in administration fees for self-insured plans since 2013. A majority of Ford’s health insurance has been self-insured since 2015, the lawsuit says. Businesses with self-insured plans pay most claims out-of-pocket, with insurers then responsible for administering the plans and processing claims in exchange for fees. Businesses buy separate stop loss coverage to protect against extraordinarily large claims.

Read more at Benefits Pro

Saudi Arabia Cuts Oil Output by 1 Million Barrels Per Day to Boost Sagging Prices

Saudi Arabia will reduce how much oil it sends to the global economy, taking a unilateral step to support the sagging cost of crude after two earlier production cuts by members of the OPEC+ alliance of major oil-producing countries failed to push prices higher. The announcement of the Saudi cuts of 1 million barrels per day came Sunday after a meeting of the alliance at OPEC headquarters in Vienna. The rest of the OPEC+ oil producers agreed to extend earlier cuts in supply through the end of 2024.

Saudi Arabia, the dominant producer in the OPEC oil cartel, was one of several members that agreed on a surprise cut of 1.16 million barrels per day in April. The kingdom’s share was 500,000. That followed OPEC+ announcing in October that it would slash 2 million barrels per day. However, those cuts gave little lasting boost to oil prices. International benchmark Brent crude climbed as high as $87 per barrel but has given up its post-cut gains and been loitering below $75 per barrel in recent days. U.S. crude has dipped below $70.  Oil traded as high as $75 per barrel Monday.

Read more at Energy Intelligence

Apple Releases Vision Pro Headset, First Major New Product in a Decade

Apple released the Vision Pro headset, the company’s first major new product in a decade, a device capable of allowing users to experience virtual reality and digital apps overlaid on the real world. Apple said the device would be a new way to interact with digital content in the physical space using the users’ hands, eye and voice to control the device and that it would enable users to experience movies, TV shows and games in a more immersive way. The company showed how users could interact with their own photos and videos, blowing them up to life size overlaid into their living environment.

The Vision Pro can project a massive movie screen into any environment for a user, as well as capture or play three-dimensional video, a capability that would offer new entertainment experiences. Apple showed the headset being used in work environments, including an ability to project a screen akin to a modern desktop in a way that could replace a computer monitor. Users can also use Bluetooth devices such as keyboards to type.

Read more at The WSJ

France Rolls Out the Red Carpet for EV Battery Factories

ProLogium has picked the northern French port of Dunkirk ahead of sites in Germany and the Netherlands for its first EV battery gigafactory outside Taiwan. It is one of four such gigafactories Macron hopes will transform the poor, former coal mining area near Belgium into a hub for the EV battery industry, creating jobs and helping to put France at the forefront of Europe's energy transition. It didn't happen by chance.

Interviews with 10 government officials and executives involved in the investment decisions show that France rolled out the red carpet, offering battery makers generous subsidies thanks to a relaxation of EU state aid rules for green energy projects - along with some personal lobbying by Macron. The people said changes since Macron became president in 2017, such as cuts in corporate tax, measures to make hiring and firing easier, and reductions in a production tax based on the size of factories, also played a role in the decisions.

Read more at Reuters

Study Highlights Challenges, Solutions To Labor Shortages for Aerospace and Defense

The aerospace and defense industry is on the verge of a variety of exciting technological advancements that will help modernize aviation and national security. However, as the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and PwC highlight in their new study, this sector is still plagued with labor challenges as demand for skilled workers rises while supply diminishes. One of the largest challenges facing the sector is the increasing demand for talent with specific, niche skill sets.

Though aerospace and defense companies are constantly looking to innovate and develop new technology, AIA points out that seldom is this industry viewed as a destination of choice. To overcome this, companies must focus on skills-based hiring. This method of recruitment focuses on a candidate’s particular skills rather than previous work experience or education. Utilizing skills-based hiring will increase the number of prospects that companies will have from which to select the best candidates.

Read more at Avionics International

Global Fertility has Collapsed, With Profound Economic Consequences

In the roughly 250 years since the Industrial Revolution the world’s population, like its wealth, has exploded. Before the end of this century, however, the number of people on the planet could shrink for the first time since the Black Death. The root cause is not a surge in deaths, but a slump in births. Across much of the world the fertility rate, the average number of births per woman, is collapsing.

Although the trend may be familiar, its extent and its consequences are not. Even as artificial intelligence (ai) leads to surging optimism in some quarters, the baby bust hangs over the future of the world economy. In 2000 the world’s fertility rate was 2.7 births per woman, comfortably above the “replacement rate” of 2.1, at which a population is stable. Today it is 2.3 and falling. The largest 15 countries by GDP all have a fertility rate below the replacement rate. That includes America and much of the rich world, but also China and India, neither of which is rich but which together account for more than a third of the global population.

Read more at the Economist (subscription)