Member Briefing September 29, 2022

Daily Briefing,

Ian Threatens Yet Another Landfall in Southeast, Widespread Impacts

Beyond what Hurricane Ian does as it pummels Florida, the storm will continue to spread flooding rainfall, coastal impacts and the potential for damaging winds northward as yet another landfall in the Southeast was becoming increasingly likely, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. States of emergency have been declared in Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas in advance of Ian's arrival, and tropical storm watches and warnings as well as storm surge warnings have been posted.

A quick loss in wind intensity is projected Wednesday night into Thursday as Ian slows down and moves inland over Florida. Despite the fact that Ian will be downgraded on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the storm’s impacts will worsen and expand in reach across the Southeast, AccuWeather forecasters say.

Read more atAccuWeather

War in Ukraine Headlines

Hudson Valley Community Colleges Receive State Grant for Manufacturing Workforce Training, Request Input from Council Members

Through the leadership of SUNY Ulster, a consortium of 6 Hudson Valley Community Colleges has been awarded 1.2 million from the State University of New York to support employers in creating a pipeline of qualified individuals to transition into careers in manufacturing successfully. The Hudson Valley Education and Workforce Consortium (HVEWC) and the Council of Industry cordially invite you to our inaugural Future of Manufacturing Convening on Thursday, October 13th (Virtual from 11 am to 1 pm). This meeting is the first of a series of collaborative efforts that will be made in the coming months to build intentional and responsive efforts to support the growth of the manufacturing sector in the Hudson Valley.

During this convening, HVEWC wants to hear from employers their workforce and training needs for the coming years. We will also discuss the grant and the training offered by the colleges.

Click here to register for the event and learn more

Weak Imports Help to Shrink U.S. Goods Trade Deficit in August

The U.S. trade deficit in goods narrowed for a fifth straight month in August amid a decline in imports, which is being driven by slowing domestic demand as the Federal Reserve aggressively tightens monetary policy to tame inflation.The report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday suggested that trade would again contribute to gross domestic product in the third quarter. The economy could also get a lift from big gains in wholesale and retail inventories last month, though consumer and business spending are likely to be tepid.

The goods trade deficit contracted 3.2% to $87.3 billion last month, the smallest since October 2021. Imports of goods dropped $4.6 billion to $267.1 billion. There was a 6.9% plunge in imports of industrial supplies, which include petroleum.

Read more at Reuters

US COVID – Recent Increases in COVID-19 Cases in the UK Could Signal US Winter Surge.

Historically, the US lags the UK in case trends by about one month, and the UK trend began rising the week of September 17. Some models predict US case trends will continue to decrease into October before beginning to rise, and while current predictions suggest a big increase in infections, the infection-detection rate likely will remain low due to declines in testing. Because the US population has some underlying immunity, and most experts agree the country has the pandemic under control, the death toll is expected to be rather modest.

But this modeling is based on the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, and the emergence of a new variant or subvariant could upend these predictions, particularly if there is a reduction in cross-variant immunity. BA.5 continues to account for the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the US (83.1%), but BA.4.6 (12%) and BF.7 (2.3%), an offspring of BA.5, are beginning to show growth advantage over BA.5. BF.7 has an additional genetic mutation in the spike protein compared with BA.5, which could reduce the efficacy of the monoclonal antibody treatment Evusheld, one of the few remaining therapies effective against BA.4 and BA.5. The mix of variants in the UK appears to be about the same as the US, although epidemiologists are watching to see whether emerging variants such as BQ.1.1 and BA.2.75 grow in proportion.

Read more at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

Siena Poll: Kathy Hochul Leads Lee Zeldin 54% - 37% Dems Lead in all State-Wide Races

Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul holds a 17-point lead over Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, 54-37%, up slightly from 53-39% in August. Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer leads Republican Joe Pinion by 19 points, 55-36%, down slightly from 56-35% last month. Attorney General Letitia James, the Democrat, leads Republican Michael Henry 53-37%, 16 points, up slightly from 50-36%. And State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, also a Democrat, leads Republican Paul Rodriguez 52-29%, a 23-point lead, also up slightly from 51-30% in August, according to a new Siena College Poll of likely New York State voters released today.

“Hochul continues to hold a strong double-digit lead over Zeldin, holding her base with support from 81% of Democrats, same as in August. Zeldin has support from 77% of Republicans, down from 84%, and continues to lead narrowly with independent voters, 45-42%,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said. “Zeldin’s narrow lead among independents is both good – it’s a lead – and bad – it’s narrow. To close or even narrow a 17-point gap, he would need to win a far greater share of independents, solidify Republican support, as well as pick off some more Democrats.

Read more at Siena College Research Institute

Democrats’ Generic Congressional Ballot Lead Narrows to 2 Points: Survey

Democrats’ lead in the generic congressional ballot narrowed to 2 points in a Politico-Morning Consult poll released Wednesday. The poll found that Democrats led Republicans in the ballot 45 percent to 43 percent, down from the 5-point lead they had in the same poll last week. Democrats are holding the narrow lead six weeks out from the crucial November midterms.

The poll also found President Biden’s approval rating dropped from 46 percent last week to 41 percent this week following a notable increase recently. The Politico poll was conducted for three days, and the margin of error was plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Read more at The Hill

Covid Vaccination Linked to Slight Increase in Menstrual Cycle, NIH Study Confirms

Covid-19 vaccination is linked to a slight increase in the length of a women’s menstrual cycle, delaying the beginning of bleeding by a few hours, according to a large international study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Diana Bianchi, head of NIH’s child health and human development institute, said the changes following vaccination appear small, temporary and within the normal range. However, the longer menstrual cycle, typically about a month long, didn’t necessarily increase the number of days of bleeding, according to health agency.

A change in menstrual cycle length of eight days or less is considered within the normal range of variation, NIH said. Participants’ menstrual cycles increased by an average of .71 days, or less than 24 hours, after the first vaccine dose and by just over half a day after the second dose, according to the study’s findings. Women who received both vaccine doses in a single menstrual period saw their cycle increase by 3.91 days.

Read more CNBC

Pfizer or Moderna: Which New Omicron-Specific Covid Booster Should You Get?

The short answer: It mostly depends on what you’re eligible for. Pfizer’s booster is cleared for anyone 12 and older, while Moderna’s booster is for people 18 and older. To get either one, you’ll need to be at least two months removed from completing a primary vaccine series or receiving any other Covid shot.

Beyond those eligibility guidelines, the new boosters aren’t that different from each other. Both shots are bivalent, meaning they target omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants alongside the original Covid strain. Federal health officials say both shots will serve as a desperately needed layer of protection for the coming months, as the weather turns colder and immunity from previous vaccines wanes. In other words, you can’t go wrong with either. But if you’re still trying to decide which one to get, here’s what you need to know — from mixing-and-matching and side effects to the makeup of the two new shots.

Read more at CNBC

Housing Prices Plunge in 77% of U.S. Metro Areas: ‘The Turn Has Finally Happened’

A national measure of prices in 20 large cities fell 0.44% in July, the first drop since March 2012, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index showed Tuesday. The last real estate crash ended in 2012, ushering in 10 years of price gains, capped off by the two-year pandemic buying frenzy. “The cooling has come hard and fast,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpoint, said in a note.

To be sure, prices remain high. The Case-Shiller national index jumped 15.8% year-over-year in July. But that was the smallest gain since April 2021, and the slowdown from the 18.1% jump in June was the largest deceleration in the history of the index. There are also signs that there is plenty of pent-up demand for housing. U.S. sales of new homes surged unexpectedly in August, government data showed Tuesday.

Read more at Time

71% of Workers Say Their Pay Isn’t Keeping Up with Inflation

Nearly three in four (71%) employees say the cost of living is outpacing their salary and wages, according to a Bank of America-sponsored survey shared first with CNN on Tuesday. That’s up from 58% in February. The survey – which was taken in July and polled people who participate in 401(k) plans – reported that half of the employees said they have taken action to cope with financial strain in the past six months.

Among those taking action, 21% say they are tapping emergency savings to pay the bills, 21% are working extra hours, 20% are looking for a higher-paying job and 6% are resorting to a 401(k) hardship withdrawal, the survey found. The Bank of America survey found that despite being employed, 62% of workers are stressed about their finances.

Read more at CNN

10-Year U.S. Treasury Yield Touches 4%

The yield on 10-year U.S. government bonds briefly touched 4% for the first time in more than a decade Wednesday, the latest leg of a historically steep rise that has jolted financial markets this year.

U.S. Treasury yields, which rise when bond prices fall, extended recent gains early in the overnight trading session, putting the 10-year yield as high as 4.017%, according to Tradeweb. They then fell sharply, however, after the Bank of England announced emergency measures to buy longer-term U.K. government debt—at least temporarily stabilizing a market that has been the center of investors’ fears in recent days.

Read more at the WSJ

Tesla’s AI Day Signals Cutting Edge, Aspirational Technologies to Come

On Friday, Musk will host Tesla’s second AI Day in Palo Alto, Calif., formerly the home to its global headquarters. The invitations that went out recently promised the latest developments in the company’s artificial intelligence efforts, including: Full Self-Driving, or FSD, the in-beta system that still needs an attentive human driver minding the wheel at all times; Tesla Bot, aka Optimus, the humanoid Musk has said will one day take over dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks from humans; and Dojo, the supercomputer Musk has said Tesla’s FSD team may utilize to improve the “brains” behind its driving systems, using the massive volume of video footage that the company’s cars capture.

The show-stopper of Tesla’s first AI Day, held in August of last year, was the humanoid bot that, at that time, was actually entirely human. After engineers gave detailed, highly technical presentations on the company’s driving-system development work, a person dressed in a skintight white suit and black helmet took to the stage to perform a jerky dance and presage an announcement from Musk.

Read more at Automotive News

Biden Laying Foundation for Green Energy Investments: Yellen

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday that President Joe Biden's push for green energy tax credits will help boost a massive ramp up in private investment that will create jobs and lower energy costs for American families. Yellen called the administration's plan "the most aggressive action that we've ever taken to address the climate crisis."

She traveled to North Carolina to tour a solar plant and tout policies included in the recently approved Inflation Reduction Act, which together with the Infrastructure Law includes more than $430 billion in energy investments. The legislation provides tax credits to households to make their homes more energy efficient or switch to cleaner sources, which will help lower costs, Yellen said.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Ford Adding 500 Jobs, Investing $700 Million in Kentucky

Amid persistent demand for consumer vehicles, Ford Motor Co. announced Tuesday that it would put more money into its truck production operations in Kentucky. In a release, the company said the $700 million would “support” production of a new F-series pickup truck at Ford’s Louisville plant, and that it would create 500 new hourly manufacturing jobs in the state.

The 500 new jobs from the investments announced Tuesday will add to the existing 12,000 people Ford currently employs in Kentucky, as well as the new hires expected to come from the Blue Oval projects.

Read more at IndustryWeek

Global Steel Output is Flat, and Falling

Global steel output inched upward from July to August, totaling 150.6 million metric tons in the latest report by the World Steel Assn. That total is essentially even with the July result (+0.01%) but is down -3.0% versus the August 2021 total. Through eight months of activity, with 1.25 billion metric tons produced, global steel output for 2022 is down -5.0% year-over-year compared to 2021.

In nearly every steelmaking region and major producing country detailed by World Steel, tons of steel output leveled off during the third quarter of 2022, apparently adapting to reduced demand amid slower industrial activity, rising energy costs, and complicating factors such as unreliable supply chains and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Chinese steel output totaled 83.9 million metric tons during August, improving slightly (+0.03%) over July and over August 2021 (+0.05%), but in 2022 that industry is the object of central planning efforts to minimize steel production as a measure to contain excess manufacturing output and to minimize real-estate inflation.

Read More at American Machinist