Trend watch and what’s new this week
There are many signs that the delta surge is receding in the U.S. From their respective peaks, new infections are down more than 20% and the number of hospitalizations have dropped 16%, while the rate of deaths appears to be cresting (slide 3). In the hotspot states, cases (slide 7) and the rate of hospitalizations (slide 8) have dramatically declined in the past couple weeks.
Within school-age children (ages 5-17), new cases in the 5-11 age group have continued to climb, but appear to have plateaued for the 12-15 and 16-17 age groups (slide 9).
The impact of Hurricane Ida on incoming economic data is fading, especially in the restaurant and hotel figures. We updated the OpenTable restaurant bookings in Louisiana, New Orleans, and Houston, which illustrate the impact from Ida (slide 10). We also updated the chart of Saturday reservations, which has held fairly steady, but with wide disparities between different regions in the U.S.
Lastly, we show consumer spending trends based on credit/debit card data through August (slide 12). We also show spending by category. Despite the surge in infections during July and August due to the delta variant, the spending data illustrates the strength and resilience of consumers.
The noise caused by the long list of cross-currents—the delta variant surge, Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas, the Labor Day holiday and the wind down of summer—appears to be fading. It is most evident in the travel-related data, such as air passengers, restaurants, and hotel occupancy.
However, those same data also highlight the continued unevenness by region and city. Importantly, the pace of economic activity, which slowed somewhat in July and August, is picking up again. As those cross-currents recede further in the coming weeks, some of those regions, such as Louisiana and New Orleans, should help contribute to the overall improvement in the fourth quarter.
To read the publication in its entirety, please select "Download PDF," below.