Revised CDC guidance on mask wearing, expected Federal Reserve monetary policy changes, uncertainty in return to work timetables, higher wages for low-skilled labor, and a Connecticut review of CDC suggestions are among the top business news items this morning.
With the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control is recommending that fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission of the virus. The guidance comes as vaccine uptake lags in several areas of the United States and the Delta variant becomes the dominant source of new COVID-19 infections.
While Federal Reserve officials have been considering whether to roll back its easy monetary policies in response to the improving economy, the spread of the Delta variant could lead to a more cautionary approach. The Fed is set to meet today and will likely issue an update on its plans to ease its bond buying.
Although many businesses are looking to start bringing employees back to in-person workplaces in the fall, the Delta variant and new CDC guidance threatens to derail such plans. Companies have been taking steps such as delaying their return to the office or introducing vaccine mandates.
A Democratic-led effort to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour fell short earlier this year, but many businesses are nevertheless setting a $15 an hour entry wage for low-skilled labor in order to attract workers and remain competitive. The compensation hike has been most notable in restaurants, retail, and travel industries.
State officials are reviewing the CDC’s new guidance to determine whether it will apply to any Connection regions. While the state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, Hartford and New London counties may be considered to be higher risk for COVID-19 transmission.