Member Briefing May 23, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing ,

Judge Approves Final NYS Congressional Maps, Changes in the Hudson Valley

A court released final maps for New York’s 26 congressional and 63 state Senate districts in the midnight hour on Saturday morning, setting in motion a flurry of campaign activity as candidates quickly jockeyed for position in critical seats. The maps are not a drastic overhaul from drafts that threw the state’s elections into chaos on Monday and threatened Democrats’ hopes of picking up several House seats from Republicans in November.
 
The new maps released early Saturday did immediately lead to some clarity for this year’s contests that resulted in an overnight shuffle that included: Buffalo Rep. Chris Jacobs, a Republican, declaring for a seat that looks like Republican Rep. Tom Reed’s old district across upstate New York; Rep. Claudia Tenney ,a Republican, announcing a run for Jacobs’ seat in Western New York, and Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones joining what could be a massive field in New York City for an open seat well south of his current one Leaving Sean Patrick Maloney the lone Democrat in that race. 
 

Invasion of Ukraine Headlines


Apple Looks to Boost Production Outside China

Apple Inc. has told some of its contract manufacturers that it wants to boost production outside China, citing Beijing’s strict anti-Covid policy among other reasons, people involved in the discussions said.  India and Vietnam, already sites for a small portion of Apple’s global production, are among the countries getting a closer look from the company as alternatives to China, the people said.

More than 90% of Apple products such as iPhones, iPads and MacBook laptops are manufactured in China by outside contractors, according to analysts. Apple’s heavy dependence on the country is a potential risk because of Beijing’s authoritarian Communist government and its clashes with the U.S., analysts have said.  Any move by Apple, the largest U.S. company by market capitalization, to emphasize production outside China could influence the thinking of other Western companies that have been considering how to reduce dependence on China for manufacturing or key materials.

Read more at the WSJ


Yellen Warns High Inflation, Slowing Growth Raise Risk of Global Downturn

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday became the latest leader to warn of turbulence for the global economy. “Certainly the economic outlook globally is challenging and uncertain,” Ms. Yellen said in Bonn, Germany, ahead of a meeting of leaders of seven wealthy nations. “Higher food and energy prices are having stagflationary effects, namely, depressing output and spending and raising inflation all around the world.”

Ms. Yellen—a former Federal Reserve chairwoman—indicated that inflation, particularly the rising cost of food and energy, is becoming a greater longer-term concern and will be a dominant theme among global leaders in the weeks and months ahead. She added that the strong U.S. economy could help buffer it from the threat. 

Read more at the WSJ


US COVID – Cases Up -Hospitalization is Up – Mortality Steady

The US CDC is reporting 82.7 million cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 997,887 deaths. The current average daily incidence of 99,347 has increased 45% over the past 2 weeks—up from 68,502 new cases per day on May 5—and nearly quadrupled from the most recent low of 24,981 on April 4. The daily mortality is fairly steady at an average of 273 deaths per day, and we have not yet observed an increase corresponding to the surge in daily incidence.  New COVID-19 hospital admissions continue to trend upwards, with an increase of 22% over the past week. New cases are being driven by the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron (50.9%); however, the proportion of cases due to the BA.2.12.1 sublineage (47.5%) is increasing, and we expect it to exceed 50% of new cases in the near future.

Vaccination progress, in the US and globally, has slowed considerably over the past several months. From week to week, the global and national-level totals are not meaningfully changing, so we are discontinuing this section of our COVID-19 Situation Reports. We will continue to monitor relevant trends and provide future updates as necessary.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


NYS Vaccine and COVID Update –

Vaccine Stats as of May 20:

One Vaccine Dose 

  • 90.4% of all New Yorkers – 16,611,475
  • In the Hudson Valley 1,731,219

Fully Vaccinated

  • 77.2% of all New Yorkers – 14,887,169
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,520,371

Boosters Given

  • All New Yorkers – 8,383,378
  • In the Hudson Valley – 1,014,125

The Governor updated COVID data through May 20.  There were 23 COVID related deaths for a total reported of 71,321

Hospitalizations:

  • Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,638
  • Patients Currently in ICU Statewide: 249

7 Day Average Positivity Rate  – Cases per 100K population

  • Statewide 8.66%    –   48.24 positive cases per 100,00 population
  • Mid-Hudson: 9.91%   –   50.49 positive cases per 100,00 population

Useful Websites:


Research: Individual Genetic Make Up Contributed to Lockdown Survival

No one enjoyed covid-19. But some folk negotiated lockdowns better than others. Having a garden and cushy job helped. But new research in PLoS Genetics, a journal, reveals another reason behind the pandemic well-being gap: genetics. Evidence comes from scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who screened the genomes of 27,500 Dutch people who had responded to a series of lifestyle surveys during the first year of the pandemic.

By cross-referencing people’s answers to identified mutations in their DNA, researchers could calculate how much each individual’s life satisfaction depended on specific genes.  On average, the participant’s quality of life was significantly lower in January 2021 than in July 2020. But those who proved the most resilient tended to have certain genetic markers. And as restrictions on public life rumbled on, genetics became an increasingly strong predictor of happiness—possibly because social isolation meant people’s environments mattered less. The pandemic exacerbated many social and health inequalities. The ultimate inequality⁠—the difference in our genetic make-up⁠—was no exception.

 Read more at PLoS Genetics


Manufacturing Supply Disruptions Could Last into 2023

Supply chain disruption could continue for more than another year, according to the newest Resilient M4.0 Supply Chain survey conducted by the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council. The MLC is the digital transformation arm of the NAM. A combination of factors is causing fundamental shifts in supply chain approaches across the industry. These include pandemic lockdowns, blocked shipping lanes, container scarcity, material and component shortages, extreme weather events, rising prices and military conflict.

  • Ninety percent of respondents reported suffering either significant (52.5%) or partial (39%) disruption in the past two years. Just 0.5% said they had seen no disruption. 
  • While many manufacturers have taken action to reduce supply vulnerabilities, 73% of companies said their current supply chains are not fully protected, and 12% said they believe their supply chains lack resilience.  

The race to fully digitize more supply chain operations is picking up speed. In nearly every supply chain function, companies said they are planning significant increases in digital adoption in the next two years to streamline their supply chain organizations. 

Read more at the Manufacturing Leadership Council


DiNapoli: New York’s Workforce Development Programs Lack Governance and Coordination

New York state has more than 500 workforce development programs offered by nearly two dozen state agencies and public authorities, but there is no functioning governing body to coordinate planning, to make sure the needs of New Yorkers are met, and resources are used effectively, according to an audit of the Department of Labor (DOL) released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.  Recommendations Include:

  • Promptly request replacement for SWIB members no longer willing and/or able to serve to assist in reconstituting a functioning SWIB in line with WIOA requirements.
  • Take appropriate action to obtain approval of the 2020 four-year Plan and successive Plans.
  • As soon as is feasible, update the Catalogue of Funding to reflect current information about programs, eligibility, and funding; thereafter, update it on an annual basis.
  • Develop an integrated WFD data system.
  • Address actual and potential overlap, duplication, gaps, and/or fragmentation among WFD programs and services.

Read more at the Comptrollers website


China’s Central Bank Makes Unexpected Rate Cut as Growth Crumbles

China’s central bank cut a key interest rate while keeping another unchanged, an unexpected policy shift that economists said would likely help the country’s moribund housing market but bring only limited relief to its struggling economy. The People’s Bank of China on Friday cut its benchmark rate for loans of five years or more to 4.45% from 4.6%, the biggest single reduction since the rate entered the bank’s policy armory in 2019. It had made a 0.1 percentage-point cut in early 2020.

The latest in a series of targeted steps by the central bank highlights how policy makers in China are constrained by rising interest rates in the U.S. and Beijing’s zero-tolerance approach to the pandemic. Easing too aggressively would risk prompting capital to flee China in search of better returns, while lockdowns are crushing appetite for new loans from businesses and households.

Read more at the WSJ


U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Rise; Continuing Claims Lowest Since 1969

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 218,000 for the week ended May 14, the highest level since January, the Labor Department said on Thursday.  Though claims have been largely treading water since hitting more than a 53-year low of 166,000 in March, the labor market is rapidly tightening and generating strong wage gains that are helping to fan overall inflation in the economy.

The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 25,000 to 1.317 million during the week ending May 7. That was the lowest level for the so-called continuing claims since December 1969.

Read more at CNBC


NAM Releases Priorities for Manufacturing Competitiveness Legislation

Despite being a bipartisan priority, legislation designed to boost the competitiveness of American manufacturing abroad has been a long time coming.  Delegations from both houses of Congress are soon to attempt to combine a pair of similar bills passed by both houses: The Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act, or USCIA; and the America COMPETES Act, passed by the House of Representatives.

On May 19, the National Association of Manufacturers sent an open letter to leaders of both houses, outlining ten recommended priorities it says the combined legislation should have. The list of priorities includes $52 billion in federal funding to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Both bills also contain reforms to overseas shipping regulations, funding for basic science research and supply chain analysis and expansions for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships Program. 

Read more at IndustryWeek


Euro Zone April Inflation Revised Down to 7.4%; Still a Record High

Euro zone inflation held steady at a record high 7.4% in April, driven by soaring fuel and food costs, the EU’s statistics agency said on Wednesday, lowering its estimate from a preliminary 7.5%. ECB policymakers are increasingly worried that the inflation surge, once seen as just a “hump”, is now here to stay and it will take tighter monetary conditions to get it back under 2%.

Price presses are now so broad that even underlying inflation, which filters out volatile food and fuel costs, is well above the European Central Bank’s 2% target, indicating that high price growth is at risk of getting entrenched.  Inflation excluding energy and food accelerated to 3.9% in April from 3.2% in March while an even narrower measure also filtering out alcohol and tobacco picked up to 3.5% from 3%, Eurostat said.

Read more at Reuters


German Producer Prices Soar 33% Annually in April, Highest Increase on Record

Producer prices in Germany rose at record pace in April as factory gate prices for industrial products were 33.5 percent higher than a year ago, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said on Friday. Energy prices soared 87.3 percent and continued to be “mainly responsible” for greatest price increases since the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949, Destatis said. Without energy, the overall producer price index would have risen by 16.3 percent only.

The German government has recently lowered its 2022 economic growth forecast from 3.6 percent to 2.2 percent, expecting annual inflation to reach 6.1 percent, almost twice as high as previously assumed. “The risks to the economy are significant,” Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck said when presenting the outlook in April.

Read more at MarketWatch


Volkswagen Announces 1,000 New Tennessee Hires, Offers Sign On Bonus

Despite a competitive employment environment, Volkswagen is looking to dramatically increase its Chattanooga, Tennessee, workforce. The German automaker announced May 18 it would seek to hire 1,000 new employees to add a third shift at Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant and drive production for three VW models, including the electric ID.4.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, the March unemployment rate in Chattanooga, Tennessee is 2.9%, and VW already employs more than 4,000 people at the plant. In order to coax yet more Chattanoogans to join, VW said it would offer a $3,000 sign-on bonus to anyone hired between May 16 and October 31 this year. The automaker also plans to use referrals to help drive recruitment. Ulrich noted the company would increase its “employee referral incentive” from $300 to $500.

Read more at IndustryWeek


Lockheed, USAF Confirm Hypersonic Weapon Test

The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin reported a successful test flight of a new USAF hypersonic missile – the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) – carried out by a B-52H Stratofortress off the California coast. The USAF reported that following separation from the aircraft, the ARRW’s booster ignited and burned for expected duration, achieving hypersonic speeds five times greater than the speed of sound.

According to Lockheed, the flight demonstrated the weapon’s ability to reach and withstand operational hypersonic speeds, collect crucial data for use in further flight tests, and validate safe separation from the aircraft to deliver the glide body and warhead to designated targets from significant standoff distances. Chinese and Russian defense forces have recently demonstrated hypersonic weapons – including one used by Russia in its current war against Ukraine.

Read more at American Machinist