Economy / Business / Health

Major Economic Indictors

      Nationwide - U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Data

The CPI. Bureau of Labor Statistics graph.
    (RP News) - 12/2020 - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest summary of major economic indicators for the United States, as of Dec. 23, 2020, shows a slight bump in prices for urban consumers, as well as a drop in the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent. “These improvements reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to COVID-19, though the pace of improvement has moderated in recent months,” the bureau states. The summary:

Consumer Price Index

    In November, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis; rising 1.2 percent over the last 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in November (SA); up 1.6 percent over the year (NSA).

Employment Cost Index

    Compensation costs rose 0.5 percent for civilian workers, seasonally adjusted, from June 2020 to September 2020. Over the year, compensation rose 2.4 percent, with wages and salaries rising 2.5 percent and benefit costs increasing 2.3 percent.

Employment Situation

    Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 245,000 in November, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7 percent. These improvements reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to COVID-19, though the pace of improvement has moderated in recent months.

Producer Price Index

    The Producer Price Index for final demand advanced 0.1 percent in November, as prices for final demand goods increased 0.4 percent, and the index for final demand services was unchanged. The final demand index increased 0.8 percent for the 12 months ended in November.

Productivity and Costs

    Productivity increased 4.6 percent in the nonfarm business sector in the third quarter of 2020; unit labor costs decreased 6.6 percent (seasonally adjusted annual rates). In manufacturing, productivity increased 19.9 percent and unit labor costs decreased 12.1 percent.

Real Earnings

    Real average hourly earnings increased 0.1 percent over the month in November, seasonally adjusted. Average hourly earnings increased 0.3 percent and CPI-U increased 0.2 percent. Real average weekly earnings increased 0.1 percent over the month.

U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes

    U.S. import prices rose 0.1 percent in November following a 0.1-percent decrease in October. Prices for exports advanced 0.6 percent in November, after rising 0.2 percent the previous month. Over the past year, import prices declined 1.0 percent and export prices fell 1.1 percent.

Unemployment rate, 2000-2020. BLS graph

Report: New Risks, Opportunities

Emerging Because of COVID-19

Consumer Behavior Will Shift $3 Trillion in Economic Value

    NEW YORK - (BUSINESS WIRE) - 11/23/2020 - With the pandemic driving people to spend more time at home, avoid air travel, and change their spending habits, businesses can expect to see a shift of more than US$3 trillion in economic value, according to Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

Photo courtesy of Business Wire
   The report, titled The Big ValueShift, quantifies the broad impact of long-term changing consumer behaviors and provides actionable insights for companies to build strategies to thrive in the face of disruption. Through a proprietary macroeconomic model that incorporates data from 38,000 companies across 25 industries, as well as household spending data for 15 countries that account for approximately 80% of global GDP, Accenture conservatively found:

  • More than $2 trillion of annual value may shift away from industries such as restaurants, traditional retail, and commercial real estate as consumers pass more of their leisure time at home.
  • Changes in spending may cause a net decline of up to $687 billion in annual value across consumer-facing industries.
  • If current declines in air travel persist into a longer-term shift, up to $318 billion of annual value will flow to different industries and ecosystems.
  • “Ripple effects of today’s changing consumer behaviors are causing waves that will reshape industries and their ecosystems. Companies must be ready — with responsive business models, technology-enabled operating models that are agile, and a growth mindset rooted in data and advanced analytics — to uncover new value and better meet customer demands as this wave of change approaches their industry,” said Kathleen O’Reilly, global lead of Accenture Strategy.

   According to the latest AccentureConsumer Pulse Survey, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents expect to feel most comfortable spending their free time at home over the next six months. This shift is impacting the traditional retail and leisure industries with value transferring to companies that offer ecommerce and digital-entertainment options.

   “The crisis has forced an uncomfortable reckoning for many brands — but, handled wisely, this will result in new ways of doing business that deliver better experiences for consumers and growth for organizations,” said Oliver Wright, global lead of Accenture’s Consumer Goods & Services industry group. “Before Covid-19, in-store shopping was, for most companies, the only ‘game in town’ with ecommerce and digital marketing an afterthought. The companies that fully integrate enjoyable and efficient digital and physical experiences that deliver faster, more convenient services will be the winners in the future.”

   The highly suppressed demand for air travel has had a profound impact on the travel ecosystem from airlines and airports to aircraft manufacturers, and even further downstream to hotel chains, energy, and resources companies. Data suggests that business travel will be one of the last segments to experience a sustained recovery. As consumers will still have vacation time, value is likely to migrate to sectors like domestic tourism, digital entertainment, and outdoor recreation.

   “Fundamental changes in behavior, including heavily reduced air travel and consumer discomfort in public spaces, creates opportunity in other areas. Companies need to innovate to drive new revenue streams and look at their ecosystem partnerships to offer value-added services that cater to new ways of working and the health-conscious consumer. For example, the hospitality sector can leverage existing assets to provide hotel rooms for day rates so people can work away from home, but still in a safe space. Critically, these efforts could also become a permanent and profitable avenue for growth in the post-pandemic era,” Accenture Travel Industry group global lead Emily Weiss said.

   The Big Value Shift is the first in a series of Macroeconomic Insights that looks at major economic and sustainability trends arising from the COVID-19 crisis and offers guidance for business leaders as they strategize and navigate their companies through unchartered business territory. 


Hospitals Hit Setbacks 

on Road to Recovery

Operating Margin Down 7.9 Percentage Points in 2020

   CHICAGO - (PRNewswire) - Sept. 25, 2020 - August was a challenging month for hospitals nationwide as margins declined across the board, reflecting continued volatility in the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Kaufman Hall September National Hospital Flash Report.

   Operating Margin is down 7.9 percentage points since the start of the year compared to the first eight months of 2019, not including federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Factoring in the federal aid, Operating Margin is down 2.3 percentage points year-to-date.

   In August, Operating Margin fell 18% (1.8 percentage points) year-over-year, 12% (1.2 percentage points) month-over-month, and 8% (0.7 percentage point) below budget without CARES relief. With the federal aid, Operating Margin was down 3% (0.4 percentage point) year-over-year and 28% (2.9 percentage points) month-over-month, but 3% (0.4 percentage point) above budget for the month.

   Margin results have consistently fallen below 2019 levels since the start of the pandemic, but the August declines follow three months of moderate month-over-month gains after the most devastating losses in March and April.

   "While the August numbers are concerning, they are not surprising," said Jim Blake, managing director, Kaufman Hall. "The latest results clearly illustrate the long road ahead for hospitals as they weather the ups and downs of a difficult recovery."

   Multiple factors contributed to the August declines, including continued low volumes and revenues, and high per-patient expenses. Hospitals nationwide saw volumes decline across most measures in August, marking the sixth consecutive month of volumes falling below 2019 performance and below budget.

   Adjusted Discharges are down 13% year-to-date, and fell 12% year-over-year and 8% below budget in August. Adjusted Patient Days are down 10% year-to-date, and declined 6% year-over-year and 4% below budget for the month.

   Emergency Department (ED) Visits continue to be hit particularly hard, declining 16% year-to-date compared to the same period in 2019. ED Visits saw the greatest year-over-year declines in August, falling 16% compared to both prior year performance and to budget. Operating Room Minutes are down 14% year-to-date and fell 6% year-over-year in August, but were less than 1% below budget expectations.

   Hospitals continued to see revenue declines in August. Not including CARES funding, Gross Operating Revenue is down 7% year-to-date compared to the first eight months of 2019. In August, Gross Operating Revenue fell 2% year-over-year and 4% below budget. Fewer outpatient visits have led to revenue declines, with Outpatient Revenue down 10% year-to-date compared to January-August 2019. Inpatient Revenue has fallen 4% over the same period.

   Meanwhile, per-patient expenses continue to rise, as hospitals struggle to control costs relative to lower patient volumes. Total Expense per Adjusted Discharge and Labor Expense per Adjusted Discharge both are up 17% year-to-date over the first eight months of 2019. In August, Total Expense per Adjusted Discharge jumped 15% year-over-year and 7% above budget. Labor Expense per Adjusted Discharge increased 14% compared to August 2019 and was 6% above budget. Non-Labor Expense per Adjusted Discharge is up 15% from January-August compared to the same period in 2019, and rose 14% year-over-year and 6% above budget for the month.

   The National Hospital Flash Report draws on data from more than 800 hospitals.