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This report is a summary of third-party economic research and perspectives to foster communication with business and economic development stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis.

Key Takeaways

  • Global: The International Monetary Fund has urged countries to continue strong fiscal and monetary efforts to support their economies, given ongoing uncertainty.
  • U.S.: Roughly 140,000 jobs were lost in December 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the first month with jobs in the red since April 2020, when more than 20M jobs were shed.
  • Ohio: The National Venture Capital Association reported Ohio companies secured a record $1.5B in 2020, versus a previous high of $1.1B in 2018. Honda to invest $200M, create 120 jobs at Shelby County engine plant.

Global

Pfizer and BioNtech have raised their 2021 COVID-19 vaccine delivery goal to 2B, up from 1.3B, depending on process improvements and expansion at manufacturing facilities.  The revised figure includes a label update which specifies 6 doses per vial rather than the current 5.  So far, BioNtech’s CEO noted that 33M doses have been shipped, and much more have been produced in the meantime.  The recorded death count from the Covid-19 pandemic as of Thursday is nearing 2M.

World food prices rose for the seventh consecutive month in December, led by dairy products and vegetable oils.  The coronavirus dealt a blow to global trade in 2020, but not in China, where exports rose 3.6% last year to a record $2.6T.  Global corporate defaults surged 91% in 2020, hitting an 11-year high, driven primarily by companies in the U.S. and Europe that were heavily involved by the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. led the default tally with 146, an increase from 78 in 2019.  There were 192 U.S. corporate defaults in 2009.  In Europe, defaults hit a record of 42, up from 15 in 2019 and nearly doubling the previous all-time high of 22 in 2009.

U.S.

Economic activity increased modestly at the end of 2020 while hiring slowed amid resurgent infections and new restrictions, even as vaccinations got underway, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book said.  The unemployment rate remains at 6.7% with roughly 55% of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic having now returned.  Applications for unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose by 181,000 to 965,000 last week, marking the biggest weekly increase since March 2020 and put initial jobless claims at their highest level since mid-August.  Job postings online were down 10.6% at the end of December from a year earlier.  Information technology (IT) companies increased employment by a net 22,200 workers while IT occupations throughout the economy grew by an estimated 391,000 positions in December.  Women accounted for 111% of jobs lost in December.  The U.S. lost a net 140,000 jobs but women lost 156,000 jobs overall, while men gained 16,000 jobs.

The U.S. economy is projected to grow 4.3% this year, as the country exits the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, economists forecast. American manufacturers have gotten better at safeguarding their factory floors and containing COVID-19 in their workforces.  Despite the progress, they are still struggling to find enough people to staff their plants.  The worker shortages are choking supply chains and delaying delivery of everything from car parts to candles just as demand is picking up.  New analysis shows new COVID-19 infection rates amongst meat and poultry workers were five times lower in December than in May, while rates in the general population rocketed up by nine times in the same period.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce released an economic analysis showing uneven recovery.  The global pandemic drove U.S. greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels accounting for the largest single drop in emissions since the World War II era, according to the Rhodium Group study.  New data from Panjiva shows that 2020 US seaborne imports ended up above 2019 levels by 1.7% – year-over-year imports surged later in the year rising as much as 20.4% in December as reopening of the economy led to more global trade.

Ohio

The National Venture Capital Association reported Ohio companies secured a record $1.5B in 2020, versus previous record of $1.1B (set in 2018).  Many unemployment claimants in Ohio will soon begin receiving the $300 weekly supplement made possible by the new federal stimulus legislation and existing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimants will soon be able to resume filing weekly claims for benefits. Ohioans filed 37,309 initial jobless claims for the week ending January 9, a 26% jump over last week and the highest number of weekly claims in a month.  Researchers in Ohio discovered two new variants of the coronavirus that likely originated in the U.S.

 

Positive Company-Specific News Negative Company-Specific News
Positive Company-Specific News

  • Honda will invest $200M and create 120 jobs at its Shelby County engine plant.
  • Bastech of Vandalia developed a face mask with the assistance of a $500,000 Ohio PPE reshoring grant.
  • Big Lots has seen 7.5% comparable sales increases in all merchandise categories except seasonal goods and food for its fiscal 2020 results.
  • Lordstown Motors already has 100,000 preorders for its Endurance electric pickup truck.
  • Cargill opened its new premix animal nutrition facility in Lewisburg.
  • Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers will hire 400 employees in Ohio this year as part of a plan to add 2,700 employees nationwide and open 20 new locations.
  • Steris PLC agreed to buy Cantel Medical in a deal that will bring together two big providers of sterilization products.
  • Bold Penguin, a rapidly growing insurance technology provider has begun rolling out a digital commercial insurance solution in collaboration with Encova.
  • The FDIC granted conditional approval to First Bank of Central Ohio’s de novo bank
  • Everstream, the business-only fiber network, announced fiber builds in seven Midwest markets to support 5G networks and provide businesses access to reliable, high-capacity connectivity.
  • Chipotle will be hiring 15,000 new employees this week as it added that 200 new locations are “on the horizon” and it expects continued growth.
  • University of Toledo will offer free COVID tests for students, faculty and staff beginning this week and running through the end of January.
Negative Company-Specific News

  • Express will enter into a loan agreement to strengthen its liquidity position by an additional $140M as it looks for continued support through the duration of the pandemic.
  • AtriCure released their preliminary Q4 and full year 2020 results which showed a decrease of 6% in revenue for the quarter, and 11% for the full year.
  • Alliance Data Systems announced it will be laying off 110 employees permanently at its Reynoldsburg Card Processing Center when the facility is closed. The company noted the decision comes as more customers are paying online and due to declining volumes of work for the facility.

 

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