WASHINGTON – U.S. economic activity “downshifted” in July and August because of rising concerns about COVID-19’s delta variant, as well as supply-chain problems and labor shortages, the Federal Reserve’s latest survey of the country’s business conditions found.
The Fed survey, released Wednesday, said the slowdown was largely attributable to a pullback in dining out, travel and tourism in most parts of the country.
The report noted particular weakness in auto sales attributed to low inventories caused by a shortage of computer chips.
The survey was based on interviews with the central bank’s business contacts completed before Aug. 30 in the Fed’s 12 regional bank districts. It will be used in discussions when Fed officials hold their next interest-rate meeting on Sept. 21 and 22.
Ford hires former Apple, Tesla exec
Ford Motor Co. has hired a former executive from Apple and Tesla to be the company’s head of advanced technology and new embedded systems, a critical post as the auto industry moves to adopt vehicles powered by electricity and guided by computers.
Before Doug Field joined Ford, he was a vice president of special projects at Apple and a engineer at Tesla. Apple has been rumored to be working on its own car project for some time, but the details have been kept under wraps. Field also worked on Tesla’s Model 3 vehicle.
Field will be in charge of building out passenger systems such as navigation, driver-assist technology, connected systems and cybersecurity across all of Ford’s products. He will also be in charge of making sure that Ford products work well with other pieces of technology, such as a smartphone or watch.
Job postings rise, actual hiring dips
U.S. employers posted a record number of job openings for the second consecutive month in July, more affirmation that the labor market is bouncing back from last year’s novel coronavirus recession.
Job openings rose to 10.9 million in July, up from the previous record of 10.2 million in June, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
But the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report showed that actual hiring dipped slightly, to 6.7 million in July from 6.8 million in June. Layoffs rose slightly, to 1.3 million.