Member Briefing September 13, 2022

Posted By: Harold King Daily Briefing,

Pattern Report: Rental Housing Remains Unaffordable for Average Residents Across the Hudson Valley

The report found that a single person making average wages cannot afford rent and modest living expenses in any of the counties. A renter making average wages falls short of their bills by $336 to $2,908, depending on the county in which they live. The outlook is equally difficult for families in rental housing, and worse for single parents.

“The conclusions in Out of Reach should trouble anyone who cares about the wellbeing of our neighbors who depend on rental housing. The Hudson Valley will struggle to sustain a workforce unless we understand the systems that created the imbalance between wages and rent, and actively seek solutions that will help people to live in our communities without emptying their pockets every month,” Pattern CEO Adam Bosch said. 

War in Ukraine Headlines

Covid-19 Illnesses Are Keeping at Least 500,000 Workers Out of U.S. Labor Force, Study Says

Millions of people left the labor force—the number of people working or looking for work—during the pandemic for various reasons, including retirement, lack of child care and fear of Covid. The total size of the labor force reached 164.7 million people in August, exceeding the February 2020 prepandemic level for the first time. The labor force would have 500,000 more members if not for the people sickened by Covid, according to the study’s authors, economists Gopi Shah Goda of Stanford University and Evan J. Soltas, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The analysis covered the period from January 2010 to June 2022. The authors used health-related, weeklong absences as a proxy for probable Covid illnesses. From March 2020 to June 2022, approximately 10 workers per thousand missed a week of work due to health reasons, on average, up from six per thousand on average over the decade before the pandemic.

Read more at the WSJ

Rail Workers Take Pre-Strike Actions

Starting today, U.S. freight railroads are poised to cut back on some service with a new union rail contract up for negotiation. The reduced service would come ahead of a potential rail strike date of Sept. 17 if talks fail to progress. While ten of the twelve railroad worker union have struck deals, the holdouts – Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – account for more than 90K rail employees.

A rail strike could disrupt the retail industry and giants like Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), and Home Depot (HD) if domestic trucking rates accelerated again. FedEx (FDX) and UPS (UPS) could also be impacted. Economists warn that an extended rail strike could weigh on food prices and be another contributor to inflation in the U.S., while the Association of American Railroads estimates that a strike would cost the economy $2B per day.

Read more at Bloomberg

US COVID – The Mystery of Why Some People Don’t Get Covid

In the early days of the pandemic, a small, tight-knit community of scientists from around the world set up an international consortium, called the COVID Human Genetic Effort, whose goal was to search for a genetic explanation as to why some people were becoming severely sick with Covid while others got off with a mild case of the sniffles. After a while, the group noticed that some people weren’t getting infected at all—despite repeated and intense exposures.

The most intriguing cases were the partners of people who became really ill and ended up in intensive care. The theory that these people might have preexisting immunity is supported by historical examples. There are genetic mutations that confer natural immunity to HIV, norovirus, and a parasite that causes recurring malaria. Why would Covid be any different, the team rationalized? 

Read more at Wired

New Private Venture Tackles the Riddle of Long Covid—and Aims to Test Treatments Quickly

A new, privately funded venture announced last week it has recruited more than 20 top scientists and is pouring $15 million raised so far into Long Covid research, with plans to launch clinical trials of treatments as soon as possible. The scientist who spearheaded the Long Covid Research Initiative (LCRI), microbiologist Amy Proal at the Washington state–based nonprofit PolyBio Research Foundation, says the goal is to bring in $100 million. Half would be dedicated to trials, which have thus far been sparse in the field.

LCRI was born after several patient advocates with Long Covid and a professional background in technology startups approached Proal early this year. “They were like, ‘We want to get better, we want to get better soon,’” Proal says. The advocates considered how to apply their startup mentality to the overwhelming challenge of Long Covid.

Read more at Science

The United States COVID-19 Testing Debacle

The U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic was marred by numerous testing challenges. Though these challenges have been covered publicly at a high level, there has been no systematic accounting for and comprehensive analysis of why the United States was unable to  implement the testing efforts it needed to effectively respond to the pandemic. 

It was widely acknowledged by government officials that testing represented a critical first step in trying to slow the transmission of the virus. It was similarly known throughout much of the pandemic that existing testing efforts were inadequate to meet demands and to support public health efforts to control the spread of the virus. And yet, a clear plan was never developed to guide the work of laboratories and to ensure that they had what they needed in order to achieve these goals.

Read more at Global Health

Hochul Ends COVID-19 State of Emergency 

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday she will not extend the COVID-19 state of emergency amid falling caseloads and rising criticism of her use of the powers ahead of the Nov. 8 election that has seen Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin close the gap on her once-big lead.

While an order giving hospitals more leeway to hire health care staff has been relatively uncontroversial, the same cannot be said about Hochul suspending state contract rules that have led to accusations of pay-to-play politics involving the governor.

Read more at The NY Post 

Four Action Steps for Shoring Up OT Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity isn’t a foreign concept to industrial enterprises. Management, engineers and technicians can’t help but see the headlines in the trade and business press, regardless of their sector. In fact, a 2019 global survey of 282 industrial companies operating in critical infrastructure and process industries revealed that 80% consider operational technology (OT) cybersecurity to be a high priority. However, that same survey found that only 31% had implemented an incident response program and only 57% had committed any budget to cybersecurity.

The following are four steps that industrial enterprises may consider to deploy and harden OT cybersecurity, in addition to improving their resiliency and data/business recovery times should an intrusion occur.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Control of the House of Representatives Could be Decided in New York

The road for control of the House might just run along the Hudson River. Instead of serving up new Democratic lawmakers for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a mix of open seats and new ones drawn up in New York’s messy redistricting process have turned a deep blue state into a battleground as Democrats are desperate to defend their thin margins in Washington.

By many predictions, New York has as many contested seats as any state in the nation, and POLITICO’s Election Forecast puts two as toss-ups; three as leaning Democratic and one leaning Republican. That makes New York — which hasn’t elected a Republican statewide in 20 years — one of the most unlikely stages of political theater this election cycle.

Read more at Politico

European Manufacturers Reel From Russian Gas Shutoff

Europe’s energy crisis has left few businesses untouched, from steel and aluminum to cars, glass, ceramics, sugar and toilet-paper makers. Some industries, such as the energy-intensive metals sector, are shutting factories that analysts and executives say might never reopen, imperiling thousands of jobs.

The question is whether the current pain is temporary, or marks the start of a new era of deindustrialization in Europe. The bloc has scoured the world for alternative gas supplies, striking deals to buy gas from the U.S., Qatar and elsewhere. But the continent might never again have access to the cheap Russian gas that helped it compete with the resource-rich U.S. and offset high labor costs, rigid employment rules and stringent environmental regulations.

Read more at the WSJ

New Jobs Report Shows Salary Increases are Nearly on Par with Inflation – Job Hoppers Do Best

An August report by ADP looked at annual pay increases, finding that salaries were increasing rapidly, nearly on par with inflation. Annual pay rose by 7.6% in the period leading up to August 2022, compared to an average increase of 2% in early 2021. Employees working for larger firms saw bigger increases: companies with more than 500 employees raised salaries by 8.3% on average, while companies with 1 to 19 employees only saw a 5.4% average bump in pay. 

Again, different industries saw different increases, per the report. The largest leisure and hospitality sector and trade, transportation, and utilities experienced the largest boost in average salary, at 12.1% and 8.4% respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, pay in construction only increased by 6.7%. But the biggest raises went to job hoppers. While loyal employees got salary gains of 7.6%, people who changed jobs got an average increase in pay of 16.1%.

Read more at Benefits Pro

Millennials Want to Live a ‘Soft Life,’ and it’s Changing How They Work

Life has changed a lot in the last two years, and many people are embracing a so-called “soft life”—a rejection of the struggle, stress, and anxiety that comes with working a traditional 9-to-5 career and spinning away your days on life’s hamster wheel. Instead, living the soft life is about throwing yourself into joy, and prioritizing the richness of experiences. Many Americans used the pandemic as an opportunity to disrupt their lives. The collective trauma of this worldwide tragedy allowed some to pump the breaks, turn into the skid and realize that perhaps there was something more important in their lives than the stressing over whether they were living for their job hard enough.

Quiet quitting—the internet’s favorite workforce term of the moment—its distant cousin, lying flat, and soft life, have all popped up as symptoms of a shift away from the traditional expectations of what it looks like to be successful in America. Living a soft life doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a job, it just means your job is not your whole world.

Read more at Fortune

Jeep Unveils Plans To Bring Four New EV Models to the Market by 2025

Jeep has revealed plans to launch four new models of electric SUVs in North America by 2025. Amongst the new models include the luxurious Grand Wagoneer and the Wrangler-inspired off-road car, the Recon. Jeep has outlined an aggressive electric vehicle plan to launch itself into becoming North America’s quintessential SUV brand in the new age.

The parent company, Stellantis, revealed that it hopes that half of its U.S. sales and all its European sales, be from all-electric vehicles by 2030. Jeep has confirmed that the new EV models are slated to be additions to the current brand’s lineup of cars, nut not replacements for current models. The Recon is labeled as a “brother” to the Wrangler, while the “S” also known as the electric Grand Wagoneer is expected to go into production in 2024. A smaller SUV by the name of the Avenger, and is considered the brand’s entry-level Jeep Renegade. Currently.

Read more at Hype