Friday, October 15, 2021

The Container Ship Jam-up – What Is Happening, and Two Sets of Solutions

On my copy of the first article on this topic I saw, Cindy Wang and Enda Curran’s “The World Economy’s Supply Chain Problem Keeps Getting Worse” (Bloomberg.com, August 25th), which quoted a Hong Kong CEO as saying “we can’t get containers” and “costs have been driven up tremendously,” I wrote that the root causes were not enough infrastructure, reluctance by businesses to raise prices, and foot-dragging on paying workers more.  That was a start, but much has happened since.  This piece, though, hit the main problems, such as the Chinese government closing “part of the world’s third-busiest container port at Ningbo for two weeks after a single dockworker was found to have the delta variant,” “the cost of sending a container from Asia to Europe is about 10 times higher than in May 2020, while the cost from Shanghai to Los Angeles has grown more than sixfold,” and a prediction from a Taiwan company president that the capacity shortage could last into the middle of next year. 

From there, Costas Paris saw “shipping options dry up as businesses try to rebuild from pandemic” (Fox Business, September 12th).  Here we learned that as “the shipping industry consolidated between 2016 and 2018,” “a handful of big shipping players control the majority of containers via giant vessels, leaving the world with fewer routes, fewer smaller ships and fewer ports.”  A variety of infrastructure shortages, including not “enough manpower, trains, trucks and warehouses” along with too few unloading places, resulting in “forty or more loaded ships… waiting at anchor off the coast of Los Angeles on any given day in recent weeks.”  Among others, Walmart and Home Depot, later joined by Costco and Target, have themselves chartered smaller ships able to dock elsewhere.  Fourteen days later, The Wall Street Journal reported in “Cargo Piles Up as California Ports Jostle Over How to Resolve Delays” (Costas Paris and Jennifer Smith) that the average 40 waiting ships was now “more than 60,” worsened by the “port complex” closing “for hours on most days” and throughout Sunday in contrast with Asian and European 24/7 operations, and, due to insufficient warehouse capacity, becoming cluttered with empty containers. 

On October 10th, Peter S. Goodman documented “’It’s Not Sustainable’:  What America’s Port Crisis Looks Like Up Close” in the New York Times.  He discussed the Savannah port, where the 80,000 containers “stacked in various configurations” there are half again the usual amount, and 700 of them “have been left… by their owners for a month or more.”  There, though, they are improving, with “a $600 million expansion” involving “swapping out one berth for a bigger one to accommodate the largest container ships,” “extending the storage yard across another 80 acres, adding room for 6,000 more containers,” and expanding the “rail yard to 18 tracks from five to allow more trains to pull in, building out an alternative to trucking”

Some relief was announced on Wednesday, as “Biden Announces Measures at Major Ports to Battle Supply Chain Woes” (Ana Swanson et al., The New York Times), as “the Port of Los Angeles will operate around the clock.”  That day saw only 25 container ships there waiting to unload, an improvement, though that still meant they were sitting for an average of “more than 11 days.” 

How, beyond what Savannah and Biden are doing, can we free up the container port snarls?  In “Liz Peek:  Biden’s economy is stalled.  Here’s what he must do now to unfreeze our supply chain” (Fox News, October 12th), the author recommends the president “bring together union bosses, transportation industry CEOs, medical authorities, and other interested parties,” and, maybe most importantly, consumers will need to accept more outages and higher prices.  I endorse those, and add the need for longer port hours all over, higher pay for truck drivers and others in positions without enough employees, ample premium-rate overtime for union longshoremen and others already willing to take it on, a faster track to warehouse building, assessment and possible removal or shrinking of business regulations contributing to the jam, easing up on Covid-19-related outages, and quickly passing an infrastructure bill containing only the most urgently needed assistance.  As companies see the demand and can manufacture what is needed, including ships suitable for smaller ports, the problem will go away with time, but for now, many of our jobs and a good chunk of our prosperity depend on getting past the worst of the current situation.  We can do it – why don’t we?

Friday, October 8, 2021

September’s Employment Data: A Pitiful Number of New Jobs Conflicts with Strong Apparent and Real Progress Elsewhere, as Latent Demand, Per the AJSN, Dives 1,200,000 to 17.7 Million

Another Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary, another fall in unemployment, another disappointing count of net new nonfarm payroll positions.  That came in at 194,000, this time just over one third of a published prediction, which was 500,000.  Doesn’t look that bad, but…

Wait a minute!

Well before the survey weeks, the federal $300 unemployment add-on ended.  We have been seeing, especially from conservatives but also moderates, how vast numbers of Americans would rush back to the workforce when they lost that extra money. 

No.

I went so far as to predict a banner jobs-adding month, strong also from higher wages, more vaccinations, and more consistent safety for the prudent.  I was so high on those factors that I considered any gain below 1.5 million to indicate little effect from the add-on’s sunset, and predicted about a million. 

Not close.  We now have no reason whatever to think that this supplement kept people away from workplaces.

So what numbers turned up?  Seasonally adjusted unemployment fell a healthy 0.4% to 4.8%, with the unadjusted version, helped by many people as usual returning to work with the new school year, down 0.7% to 4.6%.  The total number of jobless decreased 700,000 to 7.7 million, with those out 27 weeks or longer dropping 500,000 to 2.7 million and those on temporary layoff 200,000 lower to 1.1 million.  The count of people working part-time for economic reasons, or holding on to one or more of those opportunities while unsuccessfully seeking a full-time one, though, held at 4.5 million.  The two indicators of how common it is for Americans to be working or one step away, the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio, were mixed, with the former off 0.1% to 61.6% and the latter up 0.2% to 58.7%.  Average hourly private nonfarm payroll earnings, reflecting larger labor demand and higher pay, were up 12 cents, actually less than inflation, before any adjustment, and now sit at $30.85.

The American Job Shortage Number or AJSN, the metric showing how many more positions could be quickly filled if all knew getting one would be as easy as getting a pizza, showed latent demand fell 1.2 million, as follows:


 


Almost 1.1 million of the AJSN’s drop was from lower official unemployment.  The count of those not looking for work for the past year contributed more than the remainder, and almost everything else got higher.  Most noteworthy was the 650,000 gain in those claiming no interest in working, and that, along with others, show that the unemployment drop came not only from those with that status but from those leaving the labor force.  With the AJSN taking big steps toward its prepandemic levels, it is now 5.3 million less than a year ago, with the marginal statuses much lower.  The share of the AJSN from those officially jobless was 37.5%, down 3.3% and meaning that of those not now working who would actually take new, fillable jobs, five-eighths would not be what we consider unemployed.

On the Covid-19 side, the bad effects, yet becoming less common since, were still getting higher at survey time.  Per the New York Times, from August 16th to September 16th the seven-day average of new cases rose 6% to 150,376, that of deaths soared 180% to 1,969, and that of hospitalizations increased 18% to 97,413.  The same number of vaccinations administered was almost unchanged, reflecting fewer people without them and willing to have them offset by those changing their mind on higher infection numbers, gaining 1% to 773,763.  With the low number of new jobs, though, it is clear that few people were unduly endangering themselves for paychecks.

What can we make of this mess?  Clearly, most of those wanting to work took their time getting it.  Those who toyed with finding employment and weren’t successful continued to return to the shelf – and the number of those saying they wouldn’t welcome jobs, which we know is partially contingent on opportunities, again pushing all-time highs is no sign of rising prosperity. 

Overall, September was neither as bad as the puny 194,000 nor as good as the unemployment-rate drops.  We are slowly improving, with the possibility of further, much larger gains over the next few months fully alive.  This time, however, the turtle managed only a baby step forward.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Reduced Work Hours: Four Sets of Insights, But One Big Question

In these times of unfilled jobs and higher pay, we’re getting a flurry of articles suggesting we cut back from five days a week, 40 hours a week, or both. 

The oldest I saw was a reissue of “The Research Is Clear:  Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies,” first published August 19, 2015 in the Harvard Business Review.  Six years on, except for the lack of pandemic references it looks current as ever, with the likes of “managers want employees to put in long days, respond to their emails at all hours, and willingly donate their off-hours – nights, weekends, vacation – without complaining” and “we log too many hours because of a mix of inner drivers, like ambition, machismo, greed, anxiety, guilt, enjoyment, pride, the pull of short-term rewards, a desire to prove we’re important, or an overdeveloped sense of duty.”  The piece cited studies allegedly showing that “overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, including impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease,” with the usual correlation and causation problems, the difference between “a week or two of 60 hours to resolve a true crisis” and “chronic overwork,” and the doubtful or even negative value of more than 40 or 50.  Apparently, neither workers nor managers in many companies agree or even know about much of this, but it does set a starting point.

The first of the newer commentaries came out July 20th online and July 25th in print, by Bryce Covert in the New York Times, titled in the latter “Less Work, More Life.”  It recapped the studies above, but added mention of people, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it, working part-time for economic reasons (“About one-tenth of American workers were working part time but trying to get more hours”), a statement that people in this country spend “7 to 19 percent more time on the job than our European peers,” that “employers steal… overtime hours spent in front of a computer,” and that longer time constitutes “a class divide in overwork” as “the demand to spend 60 hours at an office is one that depletes the lives of professional, higher-paid workers,” the last one refreshing as almost all printed complaints about job requirements have focused on the lowest-paying positions.  I add the effects of Parkinson’s Law, furthered by employees’ perceptions that they can always work into the evening or weekend if need be, and a related problem of people feeling more need to keep in touch because that is easy. 

Next, in Robin Madell’s September 21st Yahoo News “How Does a 4-Day Workweek Work,” we learned about a trend, probably driven by prospective employees demanding more personal time, which is varies between companies putting it into practice.  As well as differences in whether the third day off is fixed or at workers’ discretion, four-day pioneers Kickstarter, Monograph, and Nectafy split on the largest question, whether such a schedule means 32 hours or still 40.

Finally, we had “the Future of Work Should Mean Working Less,” by Jonathan Malesic on September 23rd in the New York Times.  I don’t share the author’s view that “work sits at the heart of Americans’ vision of human flourishing,” that “it’s how we earn dignity,” “how we prove our moral character,” or, much more, that “it’s where we seek meaning and purpose, which many of us interpret in spiritual terms” – those norms peaked in the 1950s, and modern-day employees are increasingly likely to get their emotional needs met from other ventures and relationships which they use their jobs to support, and have never stopped covering their spiritual life with religion.  As well and unfortunately, the “should” in the title exemplifies what else Malesic had to say, that we “ought to expect a bit less of people whose jobs grind them down” (and which are those?), that considering jobs away from the center of self-worth “justifies a living wage” (just exactly what is that?), and, worst, that “this new vision” (new?) “should inspire us to implement universal basic income and a higher minimum wage, shorter shifts for many workers and a shorter workweek for all at full pay,” something that could have been written by a fourth-grader in that paper’s For Kids section. 

More problematic than naivete, though, is the query looming over all of these stories:  If people are expected to work more, what does it mean to reduce stated hours from 40 to 32?  Before we decrease official time on the job, we need to address that.  It is silly to take pride in a cut to 32 hours if that only shrinks people’s labor from, say, 60 hours to 50.  The 40-hour standard workweek, fictional or not, has been described as the norm since the 1930s – bringing actual time below that is in fact two steps away.  Let us take them one at a time. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Problems of the Pandemic, Beyond the Statistics

It’s bad enough that the United States has had, per the New York Times, 42.6 million coronavirus cases and 680,000 deaths.  How we have handled Covid-19 has precipitated real concerns, which have contributed to those totals and, if unresolved, will also damage how we do in the future.

In “The Extremely Weird Politics of Covid, in the September 21st New York Times, columnist Ross Douthat documented how, just before the pandemic caused restrictions, The London Review of Books, a “highbrow left-of-center publication,” said good things about civil disobedience during the 1600s Florence plague, agreeing with people defying “quarantines, lockdowns, and what we now call social distancing,” whereas such resistance is now almost exclusively advocated by conservatives.  Also, last year, “the right briefly favored restrictions when they seemed likely to fall mainly on foreigners and the left briefly suspended its zeal for restrictions when the transgressors were left-wing protestors.”  All of this shows that neither side has been consistently principled, meaning that neither has always made American health their top priority.

On the issue of strangely missing information, two related articles also appeared in the Times.  The first, Zeynep Tufekci’s August 29th “Show Me the Data!” posed the following: “Who should get vaccine booster shots and when?  Can vaccinated people with a breakthrough infection transmit the virus as easily as unvaccinated people?  How many people with breakthrough infections die or get seriously ill, broken down by age and underlying health conditions?,” along with “the Food and Drug Administration has asked that vaccine trials for children aged 5 to 11 be expanded, but why weren’t they bigger to begin with?”.  F.D.A. and Center for Disease Control, where are you?  Why is there no information, still, on the last three of these issues?

The second piece, “The Hard Covid-19 Questions We’re Not Asking” on August 30th by Joseph G. Allen and Helen Jenkins, had more, specifically “Does everyone need to wear a mask?  Are unvaccinated children safe in schools?... What happens if vaccines for children younger than 12 are approved at the end of the year but only 35 percent of this age group get vaccinated” as is now the case for 12 to 15-year-olds, “who have had access to vaccines for months”?  If we reach March with similar children’s inoculation rates, “does that mean masks should come off then anyway?”  These authors also asked a higher-level question, phrased as “What is the purpose of Covid-19 precautions now?”  That is important, now that goals, for example, of “Kids need to be in school, period,” “getting to zero infections and staying at that level before dropping restrictions,” and to “make this virus like a seasonal flu,” now conflict with each other.

On the explanatory side, another article, again in the New York Times, clarified “Why Covid Vaccines for Kids Are Taking So Long” (Daniel Carpenter, September 20th).  The author, who also wrote a book about this agency, blamed the F.D.A., which is now asking for “up to six months of child vaccine trial safety days, rather than two, and larger sample sizes.”  He saw a difference, not acted on well enough by the F.D.A., between the coronavirus and diseases for which “there are generally adequate existing treatments or more time than Covid-19 allows,” justifying a slower approval pace and more conservatism.  He did relate that Pfizer, for children aged 5 to 11, “will apply for emergency authorization by the end of the month.” 

Taking all this, we have “Six Rules That Will Define Our Second Pandemic Winter,” by Katherine J. Wu, Ed Yong, and Sarah Zhang, an updated version released in The Atlantic on September 21st.  These precepts are “the role of vaccines has changed (again)” from preventing all infections to stopping only the most severe ones, “the proportion of vaccinated people matters, but who they are and how they cluster also matters” as Americans without the shots are more likely to do the latter than those in other countries and older victims tend to require more ICU beds, “the people at greatest risk from the virus will keep changing” with the faster-spreading Delta variant putting more children in danger, “as vaccination increases, a higher proportion of cases will appear in vaccinated people – and that’s what should happen” which makes sense since as absolute numbers of a population decrease their percentages will also, “rare events are common at scale” reminding us that for example 40,000 breakthrough infections among 40 million inoculated people is still only one per thousand, and “there is no single “worst” version of the coronavirus” as different variants may prove to be most effective against the unvaccinated and vaccinated.

Even after all of the insights above, the best single thing we can do has not changed.  Get the shots. 


Friday, September 17, 2021

In These Tumultuous Times, What Are Employees and Employers Trying?

Especially if you have been reading this blog, you know what on this subject is happening.  Positions, ever more plentiful, are staying open, and numerous companies continue resisting raising pay to get the personnel they need.  Possible workers, between child-care problems, holding out for more money, benefitting from high unemployment payments, and having changes of heart about what they want to do, are staying jobless.  Covid-19 has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated, with so many of them getting sick that infection, hospitalization, and death rates threaten the highest points America reached in total, before shots were widely available.  Our president is trying to get the vaccine into more people, and working to increase overall safety, by requiring it for many jobs. 

Some responses, such as complaining and giving in, are expected.  Yet a handful are more noteworthy.  Which countermeasures have reached the press lately?

First, employers are paying or just plain requiring employees to take their off-work days.  Per “The limits of vacation” (Jenny Gross, The New York Times, August 14th), firms as prominent as LinkedIn and Intuit “have introduced weeklong companywide shutdowns so employees can fully disconnect,” and another, PwC, “is offering workers $250 each time they take 40 consecutive hours off.”  None of this time is additional to what people have already been guaranteed, but, at PwC at least, they are then being asked to lay off their office email accounts.  That is more important than forcing employees to step away for lengths of time that may not be convenient for them.  As Gross pointed out, it is better still to ask workers what would help them, which could result in less along the lines of “installing a volleyball court on the rooftop of an office” (to get people to spend more after-hours time there) or “providing free food during the day” (to facilitate more lunchtime work), when what people really wanted “was receiving fewer emails from bosses during evenings and weekends.”

Second, businesses now have a real and unusual opportunity to experiment with different ways of togetherness.  That was the thesis of Priya Parker’s August 20th New York Times “How Should We Meet?  And Who Decides?”; ideas she mentioned, without much judgment, included assessing a group’s needs before every meeting, implementing new knowledge of what is best done remotely, and shortening the workweek with a commensurate reduction in tasks.  More than anything else, Parker conveyed the value of management trying different things. 

Third, “New surveys show how pandemic workplace policies are shifting” (Sarah Kessler, The New York Times, September 1st).  Such changes include, with percentages of organizations including those now practicing them, requiring vaccinations (52%), tracking worker inoculation status (78%), considering passing along some health-insurance financial impacts to workers (17%), and cutting travel costs even after the pandemic is minimized or ended (84%).  Planned or not, these changes may not be implemented, let alone lasting. 

Fourth, some companies are saying “We’ll Give You a Week Off.  Please Don’t Quit” (Tiffany Hsu and Lauren Hirsch, The New York Times, September 6th).  What’s missing here is whether or not these breaks, often companywide, are bonus holiday time, in place of individually scheduled vacations, or unpaid furloughs.  These efforts, in various significant but not household-word firms, are designed to cut burnout, but sadly often help only temporarily, as employees often return to piles of emails and the same cultural situation.  Worthy experimentation, but no panacea.

Fifth, more are saying goodbye even from good jobs, as noted and investigated in “Why Are So Many Knowledge Workers Quitting?,” by Cal Newport in the August 16th New Yorker.  One cause may be money saved through fewer pandemic spending opportunities.  Another related reason, Newport mentioned, was that “this particular class of workers were thrown into their own Zoom-equipped versions of Walden Pond” as “diversion and entertainment were stripped down to basic forms,” cutting their need for money.  I won’t hold my breath waiting for dumping well-paying positions in favor of financial leanness to become widespread, but it’s hardly out of the question.

Finally, sixth, the fun one, especially to this long-time remote-work hawk: “Some white-collar workers are secretly balancing 2 full-time jobs and earning up to $600,000, a report says.  They drop in and out of multiple meetings to avoid getting caught” (Grace Dean, Business Insider, August 17th).  Isn’t that a fitting response to poorly controlled telecommuting?  This, by the way, is legal, only something that “could breach employment contracts and get people fired.”  Dean’s perhaps unintentionally humorous accounts of tactics include a teacher-technician who dealt with one boss’s request for a video call while running a class for the other by asking his students to take a break and then firing up his second computer, attending simultaneous meetings online and by voice, and traveling, not for training as represented, but to work part-time jobs.  As long as all employees are treated as fervently productive and scrupulously proper, we will get this sort of ingenuity, and it may prove to be remarkably difficult to identify.  Ha ha – who says news about workplace trends can’t be hilarious?

Friday, September 10, 2021

A Summer of Changes in Hiring, With More to Come

With Covid-19 as the root cause, over the past couple of months there has been at least a decade’s worth of developments in how employers and employees get together.

For a summary, see David Autor’s September 5th New York Times “The Labor Shortage Has Empowered Workers.”  This scarcity, if you can even call it that, is not from a lack of people able to take positions – our country’s population growth has slowed, but it is still positive.  We have seen a groundswell of potential applicants wanting more money especially for low-level labor, proximately caused by, in Autor’s view, high unemployment benefits, insufficiently available childcare, and simply that “people’s valuation of their own time has changed.”  For the first time since the early 1950s, “the U.S. doesn’t have a job quantity problem:  instead, it has a job quality problem” (italics his). 

That last sentence explains, as well as anything that short could, “Why America has 8.4 million unemployed when there are 10 million job openings” (Heather Long, Alyssa Fowers, and Andrew Van Dam, The Washington Post, September 4th).  The first answer the authors gave is that “there is a massive reallocation underway in the economy that’s triggering a “Great Reassessment” of work in America” from both sides, as “the pandemic and all of the anxieties, lockdowns and time at home have changed people.”  After learning that the available positions are often in less desirable geographical areas, pay is often below new increased market levels, and many more are in business services and health care than there are unemployed workers with related careers, the disparity makes more sense.

In a USA Today article printed September 5th in the Times Herald-Record, “Labor Dan quiz:  When will the worker shortages end?,” Paul Davidson concluded that this real or imagined phenomenon would run until the end of 2023.  As he did not mention the frequent need for higher pay, or potential policy-loosening moves, it is an open question how much quicker it could be.

Hiring requirements have changed as well.  Per “DealBook:  No vaccine, no job” (Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times, August 28th), “the share of job ads that require new hires to be vaccinated have (sic) nearly doubled in the past month.”  Some companies make exceptions for remote workers, and companies, especially large ones, have been more hesitant to impose that requirement on existing staff.  A more momentous shift has started, also per Davidson from and appearing in the same publications on the same dates, in “No degree?  No experience?  No problem.”  Both requirements are due for frequent elimination, perhaps starting a return to the days when most business positions required no education after high school, and when employers were more willing to leverage the knowledge, as put to me by a career counselor almost forty years ago, that people could be trained for 80% of jobs within three weeks.  From an unexpected direction, we discovered that “an Oregon McDonald’s is so desperate for workers it hung a huge banner outside calling on 14-year-olds to apply” (Mary Meisenzahl, Business Insider, August 31st), a tactic matched by at least one Burger King.  That, though, brings its own restrictions, as, per the New York Department of Labor as a sample, workers aged 14 and 15 are limited to “a maximum 3-hour day and 18-hour week when school is in session,” with 40 weekly hours allowed only when school is closed “for the entire calendar week.” 

Have high unemployment checks held down the numbers of people seeking and accepting work?  We are about to conclusively find out, as, as of Labor Day, “Federal Jobless Aid, a Lifeline to Millions, Reaches an End” (Ben Casselman, The New York Times, September 2nd).  We should see at least part of this change’s effect in the next set of employment numbers, to be released October 8th and reflecting mid-September survey outcomes. 

What changes have been happening on the job?  Barring a preemption from urgent news, I will look at those next week. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

August Jobs Report: Almost Everything Got Smaller, and the AJSN Showed Latent Demand Off 1.2 Million to 18.8 Million

This time, nearly all the numbers in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary decreased.  Starting with net new nonfarm payroll positions, which at 235,000 hit neither one-third of the consensus 750,000 projection nor one-fourth of July’s 943,000 rise, that polarity was also matched for better by seasonally adjusted unemployment (down 0.2% to 5.2%), unadjusted unemployment (down 0.4% to 5.3%), the total number of officially jobless (down 300,000 to 8.4 million), and those out for 27 weeks or longer (down 200,000 to 3.2 million).  Staying even were the labor force participation rate, at 61.7%, and the count of those working part-time for economic reasons, or holding on to such jobs while thus far unsuccessfully seeking full-time ones, still 4.5 million.  Increasers were the number on temporary layoff, up 100,000 to 1.3 million, the employment-population ratio, strange since the number working fell, up 0.1% to 58.5%, and average private nonfarm payroll hourly earnings, with an adjustment gaining 19 cents to $30.73.  This time, higher pay seems to have reflected higher wages at the bottom instead of such jobs going away, as employers are, if slowly and grudgingly, raising pay to keep positions filled.

The American Job Shortage Number or AJSN, the measure of how many additional positions could be quickly filled if all knew they would be easy to get, also shrunk, decreasing 1,188,000 as follows:

 


Of its 11 components above, ten decreased.  The only exception was spectacular – the count of those saying they did not want a job soared almost 2.2 million, possibly its largest monthly change ever.  That, which had declined almost 1.7 million over the previous two months, more than rebounded, showing that many people rejoining the labor force from mid-May to mid-July and not finding what they wanted went back on the shelf.  The share of the AJSN from those officially jobless, 40.8%, edged down 0.6%.

On the Covid-19 front, the interval from July 16th to August 16th, in percentage terms, was by far the worst 16th to 16th one so far.  The seven-day daily average of new cases shot up 361% from 30,901 to 142,414, that for hospitalizations jumped 264% from 22,641 to 82,519, and deaths, going from 280 to 704, climbed 151%.  The average daily number of vaccine doses administered rose 47% from 519,678 to 765,555.  A map of the worst places in the country looks much like an 1860s one of Confederate States supporters, with almost all of the highest rates in or near the Southeast.  It is now very much a pandemic of the unvaccinated, with the 38% of Americans with no shots at higher risk than they have ever been.

What can we make of this data?  The statistic that explained the others was the fall in those not wanting to work – that fit with lower counts of both unemployed and marginally employed people, which, with higher latent demand percentages, accounted for the AJSN’s otherwise surprising drop.  It was a sort of consolidation month, with a disappointing number of new positions but others not bad overall and looking more like they did, though with half-again-higher unemployment, before the pandemic.  I can no longer trade heavily on how we have been doing with the coronavirus, as the massive majority of cases are preventable through convenient and long-available vaccinations, so we are left with a moderately progressive outcome.  Accordingly, the turtle took a medium-sized step forward.