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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 Economic Insights

  • Global: The world economy is likely to grow by around 6% this year, according to Oxford Economics, the fastest rate in almost half a century.
  • U.S.: The February Manufacturing PMI registered 60.8%. U.S. expects to provide enough vaccine for all adults by the end of May.
  • Ohio: Ohio ranked #1 for projects per capita in Site Selection Governor’s Cup Awards. JobsOhio released its 2020 Annual Report and Strategic Plan.

Global Insights

The U.S. dropped a Trump administration demand in global corporate-tax negotiations, removing one obstacle to an agreement on adapting the tax system to the digital economy.  Treasury Secretary Yellen said the U.S. would no longer insist on a “safe harbor” under which some elements of the tax rules would be optional.  A year into the pandemic, early data and surveys point to a baby bust in many advanced economies from the U.S. to Europe to East Asia, often on top of existing downward trends in births.

A new WHO-backed study shows that nine out of ten deaths from COVID-19 occurred in countries with high obesity levels, at 10x higher where at least 50% of the population was considered overweight.  The UN found 17% of food available to consumers was wasted in homes, retail, and restaurants in 2019.  The report estimated that 931M tons of food was wasted in 2019 accounting for between 8-10% of the global greenhouse gas emissions in the world.  The organization’s Environment Program is seeking to halve food waste by 2030.

U.S. Insights

The February Manufacturing PMI registered 60.8%, an increase of 2.1 percentage points from the January reading of 58.7 percent.  Payroll jobs grew by 379,000 in February (versus +166,000 in January), lowering the U.S. unemployment rate to 6.2%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Initial jobless claims in regular state programs totaled 745,000 in the week ended Feb. 27, up 9,000 from the prior week.  Most businesses remain optimistic regarding the next 6-12 months as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely distributed according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.02%.  Fresh stimulus increased household income 10% in January from the previous month almost entirely due to federal pandemic-relief aid included in a $900B stimulus program signed into law in late December.  The personal consumption expenditures price index, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, rose 0.3% for the month, slightly ahead of the 0.2% expectation but was up just 1.5% year over year, matching Dow Jones estimates.  Walmart unveiled a target of investing $350B toward the future of U.S. manufacturing, which is estimated to support more than 750,000 new American jobs.  TSMC reportedly plans on opening 6 new manufacturing plants in the U.S.

After finalizing the $1.9T pandemic relief measure, the Biden Administration is expected to shift its focus to an infrastructure proposal of a similar magnitude.  The American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. airports, roads, waterways and other systems a C–, reflecting its view that the nation’s infrastructure is in poor to mediocre shape and in need of an upgrade.  The U.S. Treasury launched a program to infuse $9B into minority and community lenders to boost financing for small business and consumers struggling with COVID-19 in low-income and underserved communities.  The FCC approved a $3.2B Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to provide eligible low-income households with up to a $50 per month credit on their internet bills.

The first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, a shot from Johnson & Johnson, was authorized for use, a big boost for a mass-vaccination campaign.  President Biden said the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccine for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated.  The average number of tests being conducted every day in America has plummeted by 34% since January, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Ohio Employment & Economic Insights

Texas and Ohio won the 2020 Site Selection Governor’s Cups.  Ohio once again led as the state with most Top 100 micropolitan areas, with 25 of them tallying 99 projects.  JobsOhio released its 2020 Annual Report and Strategic Plan, highlighting a strong finish to the year of job creation and investment.

Gov. DeWine announced that Ohioans ages 60 and older and those with certain conditions or professions that put them at risk of contracting COVID-19 can get a shot starting on March 4.  Indoor and outdoor sports and entertainment venues can now welcome back guests, as long as state health orders are followed.  The one-year anniversary of COVID-19 shutdowns occurred this week when the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus was met with strict attendance limits.

 

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

  • American Trailer World Corp. will invest $18M to establish a new trailer manufacturing facility in Batavia, creating 249 new jobs.
  • Cedar Point will hire 6,500 associates for the 2021 season as the company will be celebrating its 150th Kings Island will be adding 4,000 workers for the upcoming season.
  • The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, EASE Logistics and the City of Dublin announced a pilot as part of the Smart Columbus initiative to advance connected mobility.
  • Kroger delivered strong Q4 and full-year 2020 as identical sales grew 14.1% on the year and digital sales grew 116%. The company had an operating profit of $2.8B in fiscal 2020.
  • Tata Consultancy Services announced the launch of a suite of COVID-19 testing and vaccine management solutions to streamline the process and stages of testing and vaccination.
  • Commercial Vehicle Group of New Albany announced a partnership with commercial electric vehicle manufacturing Xos, Inc. to develop sustainable initiatives and solutions for the marketplace.
  • MedQuest announced a partnership with Cloudbreak Health to integrate as one of several pharmacy options on Cloudbreak’s latest telehealth platform.
  • Ferro released Q4 earnings figures showing net sales up 6.2% and gross profit up 5.6%. The company also announced the completion of its sale of Tile Coating Systems for $460M.
  • Third-quarter performance exceeded M. Smucker Co.’s expectations, as quarterly sales rose 5% to $2.1B.
  • Columbus-based Beam secured $80M in an oversubscribed Series E round of funding to expand its insurance platform and automate underwriting.
Negative Company-Specific News

  • Workhorse Group recorded the biggest weekly decline ever when the shares sank 52% in two days this week after the USPS said Oshkosh would get a contract to build new vehicles for mail carriers.
  • PlusOne Communication will close its Akron facility, laying off 155 workers, due to its client terminating services with the company.
  • Cleveland-Cliffs recorded a net loss of $186M for 2020.
  • Disney will close 60 retail stores throughout North America as it plans to develop and focus on its e-commerce business. The company operates 4 stores in Ohio.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch released Q4 and annual financial results showing net sales for the year were down 14%, and an operating loss of $20M. Despite this, digital net sales grew 34% to $639M for the year.
  • Park-Ohio reported net sales down $300M for 2020 compared with 2019 and a net loss of $4.5M.

 

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