The end of the line for a federal COVID-19 vaccination rule, differing signals from economic data, ongoing supply chain concerns, and preparations for Connecticut’s legislative session were some of the major business news items in the past week.
OSHA vaccine rule scrapped
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has withdrawn an emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination policies for employers with 100 or more workers after an unfavorable Supreme Court ruling. Earlier this week, we took a look at how businesses are responding to this development.
Conflicting economic signals
The International Monetary Fund sharply downgraded its forecast for global growth this year due to pressures from COVID-19 and ongoing supply chain disruptions. However, Commerce Department data released later in the week shows that the United States GDP expanded by 5.7 percent in 2021 – its strongest gain since 1984.
Other optimistic signs included a forecast that consumer credit conditions will improve over the next six months and a drop in initial unemployment claims after three consecutive weeks of increases.
Fed moves to combat inflation
The Federal Reserve is leaving rates near zero, but has signaled that it is looking to increase rates in March as it looks to counter persistent inflation. The central bank is currently slowing its monthly bond-buying program, which was set up as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is on track to end these purchases entirely in March.
Supply chain concerns
Supply chain disruptions are continuing to create major headaches for some companies. A Commerce Department survey shows that manufacturers are typically maintaining an inventory of less than five days’ supply of semiconductors, compared to 40 days in 2019. Vestas, a wind turbine manufacturer, says the growing wind industry is encountering higher than expected inflation and other pressures due to supply chain issues.
Connecticut legislative plans
With Connecticut’s 2022 legislative session set to debut on Feb. 9, lawmakers and interest groups are introducing their priorities for the year. Some lawmakers are looking to address child care and paid sick leave needs to minimize workforce disruptions. The Connecticut Business & Industry Association released an agenda calling for policies to address labor shortages, grow the state’s economy, and provide tax relief to small businesses.