This has been a puzzling week, a difficult one. Despite our every effort, the rent control initiative was approved by St. Paul’s voters – those who showed up. Of the city’s 169,950 registered voters, 35% showed up, and 53% of them – or just over 31,000 people - voted to enact an ordinance that is so problematic I don’t have words. Already the City Council is scrambling, the current budget – which, by the way, includes an almost 7% property tax levy increase – is at risk. Not to mention open housing projects, which are on pause for the moment. And, if the newspaper is correct, some of those voters voted “yes” more against those (including your Chamber) who were supporting the “No” vote. Again, the us vs them ideology.
My hope? Is that together we commit to addressing the real issue: more supply of affordable housing – now with our hands tied behind our backs.
All the challenges aside, my eyes look forward to Thursday of this week, November 11, Veterans Day. No matter our disagreement on policy, our differing approaches to shared priorities, we can be united in our support of our veterans. This holiday started as a day to reflect upon the heroism of those who died in our country’s service and originally was called Armistice Day. Nov 11 is important because it is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. In 1954, the holiday was changed to “Veterans Day” to honor all veterans in all wars.
I know this is a challenging season; please, for a moment, pause and come together to honor our veterans. Perhaps we can come together on other priorities ahead as well.
See you in the trenches.
OSHA announces a new Emergency Temporary Standard on Vaccination and Testing: requires covered businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure every worker is fully vaccinated-with paid time to get vaccine-unless they require unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly testing and wear face coverings. Check out USDOL's weekly newsletter for more information. USDOL Newsletter. Biden administration announces Jan. 4 deadline for complying with the mandate and Minnesota employers scramble in response.
For more details, here are a few resources:
Update on vaccinations:
COVID-19 continues to fade as dominant political issue as Americans focus on inflation, economy. That recovery is hindered by Supply Constraints.
And, as we’ve noted in previous blogs, the labor market is the new barometer for interest rate changes: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated this last week after the central bank's policy-setting committee meeting. Despite concerns about inflation, the Fed isn't entertaining interest rate increases until the job situation improves and the economy reaches maximum employment. Powell still won't say what "maximum employment" means to the Fed right now. There's "room for a whole lot of humility," he said, thinking about what maximum employment looks like in a post-COVID world, but there are early signs that the labor market is on the upswing. Pay and income losses are on the decline, and more people are getting back into the labor market, according to Morning Consult employment data. Leisure and hospitality workers, especially, saw pay and income loss fall throughout October, despite a small increase at the end of the month. There might be a light at the end of the tunnel for labor force participation as well. As back-to-work policies start solidifying, increased certainty for workers is driving them back to the workforce. More details here: Fading Uncertainty Drives October Job Growth.
Economists largely expect prices to continue rising — as do consumers. Our next inflation gauge, the Consumer Price Index, comes out Wednesday.
Update on the Build Back Better Regional Challenge: the EDA announced last week that 529 regions from all 50 states and five territories have submitted applications for Phase 1 of the $1 billion challenge. To find a list of applicants and to read Assistant Secretary Alejandra Y. Castillo’s letter to them, please click here. For more information about the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, visit: https://eda.gov/arpa/build-back-better/
Public Affairs Issue Forums: announcing two new forums to finish out the year:
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update
In the aftermath of a very challenging week, it’s a pleasure to talk about upcoming holiday activities:
Talent scarcity demands better talent decisions: Tips on how to do it.
Building a more diverse workforce is a great place to start as you think about building a more inclusive organization to help you achieve business goals. That said, diversity hiring is only the beginning. What else to consider? Of particular interest this week is a New York Times article on diversity and unions: Can Progress on Diversity Be Union-Made?
Building an Equitable Future: A series of profiles of BIPOC developers in the Twin Cities
U.S. downtown office-vacancy rate is as high as it's been since 1994.
Twin Cities developers, landlords prepare for the worst as rent control organizers celebrate.