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COVID-19

Manufacturing is on a roll, but labor, some supplies run short

Mitchell Hartman Mar 2, 2021
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"It’s just this weird transition from COVID to post-COVID, and one of the near-term impacts is likely to be a little bit of a pop in inflation," said economist Ben Ayers at Nationwide. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Manufacturing is on a roll, but labor, some supplies run short

Mitchell Hartman Mar 2, 2021
Heard on:
"It’s just this weird transition from COVID to post-COVID, and one of the near-term impacts is likely to be a little bit of a pop in inflation," said economist Ben Ayers at Nationwide. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images
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Several reports show U.S. manufacturing’s on a roll, including data from the Institute for Supply Management and from IHS Markit’s purchasing managers index. Home construction and auto sales have the factories going. All that demand for manufactured goods is starting to create bottlenecks in production.

Manufacturing employment still hasn’t quite caught up to pre-pandemic levels, but as the economy emerges from pandemic lockdowns and demand ramps up for manufactured goods like cars and appliances, “manufacturers are certainly well ahead of most other industries when it comes to the recovery,” said Dave Gilbertson at payroll processor UKG. (Full disclosure: UKG is a Marketplace underwriter.)

Gilbertson said employers report it’s getting harder to find skilled labor.

Meanwhile, economist Ben Ayers at Nationwide said shortages are developing for materials like lumber, steel and semiconductors as producers try to increase output amid tight COVID restrictions.

Ayers said that with demand up and supply constrained, prices are rising.

“It’s just this weird transition from COVID to post-COVID, and one of the near-term impacts is likely to be a little bit of a pop in inflation,” Ayers said.

Ayers predicts that pop will only last six to eight months, and prices will moderate as supply and demand come into balance.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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