Trend watch and what's new this week
The spike in U.S. virus trends due to the omicron variant nationally (slide 3) and regionally (slide 7) continues. Omicron appears to be milder than prior variants (slide 8) and has quickly crowded out all other variants (slide 9). However, it is causing a ramp up in hospitalizations (slide 10), which is problematic. We also revisit the school-age cases (slide 11), which held steady over winter break.
This week, we revisit the massive West Coast port traffic tsunami (slide 12). While there’s been a lot of attention on the bottlenecks at U.S. ports, which has caused goods to be delayed, the top five U.S. ports have handled nearly 18% more cargo year-to-date compared to 2019.
We also highlight mobility by year (slide 13), which shows Americans gradually becoming more active despite the pandemic.
Lastly, we check in on movie box office trends (slide 14). The number of ticket sold more than doubled in 2021 from 2020, but is still down 60% from pre-pandemic levels. This too shows Americans are gradually venturing out more.
Economic activity weakened, which is typical as most people and businesses coast into year end. Still, there’s a fair amount of noise in the incoming data due to the combination of omicron, holiday seasonality, and a series of winter storms.
These developments will certainly result in softer data to start the New Year as some of these issues have spilled into January. That said, it’s important to understand such delays typically result in pushing back activity rather than cancelling it, which equates to outright losses.
Similarly, many schools have reverted to virtual learning and companies have pushed back return-to-office plans. While these are setbacks, they’re temporary delays rather than permanent decisions. They also illustrate resiliency as such setbacks are largely being handled as routine events using protocols developed early in the pandemic instead of as major disruptions.
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