The latest U.S. economic news comes in the form of Retail Sales. Retail Sales numbers, which measure purchases at stores, restaurants, and online shops, was flat month over month for April. On a positive note, specific sales from restaurants and bars was higher by 3%. This increase shows positive signs for our recovering economy and a willingness for more Americans to venture out. My wife and I can certainly be counted as part of that crowd. We recently went to two weddings over the past weekend, one of which was in Nashville. We did our fair share of stimulating the economy while hanging out in the heart of the country music world! I will also note that BWI felt as if it were the good ole days again, waiting in lines, crowds of people, no social distancing. Ah, who would have thought we would have missed that so much.
In the news this week, the CDC announced on Thursday that fully vaccinated people in general, do not need to wear a mask or socially distance during indoor & outdoor activities. We have since already seen additional headlines from specific business and industries stating that they will keep separate protocols in place for now. Covid vaccination numbers are still trending higher in the U.S. According to the CDC, with roughly 35.8% of the U.S. population now fully vaccinated. Two out of the three vaccines in the U.S. are only approved for individuals 18 years and up (Pfizer is now 12+). Only 77% of the total population is currently approved to receive the vaccine at the moment. Based on the current distribution, experts now believe that 75% of the total U.S. population will be vaccinated by Sept 25th.
With the disappointing hiring and job data from last week, some states are starting to end the additional $300/week unemployment benefit sooner than the Federal expiration date in September. Currently, the average Marylander on unemployment is receiving $654/week or $34,008/year. “The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” tweeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Certain employers are feeling this burden first-hand. The additional unemployment has had the unattended consequence of higher wages for businesses. Certain businesses, especially those in the restaurant and entertainment space, have had to increase wages just to entice workers to come back. Many of these businesses simply will not be fully staffed for the summer rush. It will be difficult to continue to improve our economy when there are not enough available workers or those unwilling to go back.
PSA – Do not fill trash bags or other unsafe containers with gasoline. While there may be temporary supply chain strains in certain areas, as a whole, things seem to have been blown a little out of proportion. We all love a good toilet paper story now and then!
Enjoy your weekend.
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