Week 48

Covid-19 Economic Data Tracker

December 6, 2021

Download the entire weekly edition to view timely charts and data providing a comprehensive picture of how the pandemic affects our economic outlook.

The Truist COVID-19 Economic Tracker will not published every week during the month of December. It will return to a weekly schedule in January 2022. 

Trend watch and what's new this week

The omicron variant appears to be more transmissible than prior strains, but the symptoms are reportedly milder. Still, concerns about the omicron variant have caused several countries to reinstate some social distancing rules, mostly in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, virus trends in the U.S have sharply increased nationally (slide 3) and regionally (slide 6), which we cautioned was likely due to artificially depressed testing because of the Thanksgiving holiday, resulting in fewer cases identified. While the omicron variant has been spotted in at least 16 states, the delta variant remained at 99% of new U.S. infections through November 27.

We’ve seen West coast port congestion has improved in past few weeks (slide 8). This the combination of fewer inbound container ships, which appears to have peaked in September, and better throughput at the ports. Ultimately, clearing the logjam of container ships at these ports should help reduce the supply shortages that have fanned some of the inflationary pressure in recent months.

Bottom line

Overall activity levels are consistent with recent trends and seasonal norms. By that, overall economic activity has gradually declined, while shopping and freight volumes continue to ramp higher and should crest in mid-December and taper off quickly near year-end.

More importantly, current vaccines appear to blunt the severity and greatly decrease the death rate of all strains of COVID-19. Nearly 70% of all Americans are fully vaccinated and over one-quarter of adults have already received a booster (slide 4).

Our base case remains that the lockdowns will not happen in the U.S., similar to last summer’s surge due to the delta variant. That said, we wouldn’t rule out regional or localized restrictions by certain cities or states. As we’ve repeatedly mentioned here, COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon, but the world does seem to be managing it better.

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