Week 41

Covid-19 Economic Data Tracker

October 15, 2021

Trend watch and what's new this week

The FDA vaccine advisory panel approved the Moderna booster for seniors and high-risk people this week. Nearly 13% of seniors have gotten a booster, which we are also tracking (slide 5).

The panel will also determine approval of the J&J/Janssen booster later today, though less than 5% of Americans have gotten the J&J/Janssen shot (slide 10).

New COVID-19 cases of school-aged children continues to increase and is up to 12.3% of all new U.S. cases (slide 8). The majority are in the 5-11 age group, which still ineligible for vaccines.

U.S. regional new cases appear stable (slide 7). However, COVID-19 hotspots have shifted to colder states. Still, nationwide numbers for new cases, hospitalizations, and death rates continue to improve (slide 3).

This week, we revisit hotel occupancy (slide 9), which is stabilizing. Air passenger counts are also climbing, up for the third straight week (slide 6).

Lastly, we updated the staffing data, which has surged to a six-year high (slide 11). Companies have quickly added temporary staff as the delta variant receded. 

Bottom line

Overall economic activity continues to reaccelerate as the delta variant recedes. This is corroborated by fresh data for September, including retail sales, which rose a strong 0.7%.

While the upbeat September retail sales showed that consumers are on solid footing, it largely reflects higher prices. It also underscored spending remains skewed towards goods—which can be purchased online—rather than services. Normally, services are more than 60% of consumer spending.

Furthermore, this means no let up for the ongoing supply chain problems and transportation bottlenecks, which continue to hamper overall growth. New vehicle sales, which are hamstrung by the semiconductor shortage, are the poster child of this issue. All but one carmaker saw third quarter sales in the U.S. decline from a year ago (Toyota edged up 1.4%) and all blamed a lack of finished vehicles.

Accordingly, while some of the virus trends are improving, there are still challenges ahead, including a widespread worker shortage and wage inflation. Lastly, typical seasonality will return as cooler autumn and winter weather reduce activity levels. 

 

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