CoVid-19 Industry Updates

CoVid-19 Industry Updates (184)

Mitsubishi Motors North America announced a new work-from-home policy that affords flexibility to employees whose jobs can be performed from home, with no required minimum number of days in the office, a benefit more common among cutting-edge technology companies than automotive brands. This move comes as the company reports strong sales across the first quarter of 2022 and builds on its momentum as the fastest-growing, non-luxury brand in the industry.

“Our new work-from-home policy comes down to one thing: tremendous trust in our employee team,” said recently appointed MMNA CEO Mark Chaffin. “Over the last two years, our employees have risen to the challenges of a global pandemic and historic supply chain disruptions, and they’ve propelled the brand to record-breaking sales success. They’ve demonstrated they can do it all, while working from their home and company offices. That commitment should be rewarded with confidence and flexibility, and today, that’s what we’re doing.”

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 431,000 in March, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently. Notable job gains continued in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and manufacturing.

This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics.

The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.6 percent in March, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 318,000 to 6.0 million. These measures are little different from their values in February 2020 (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively), prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (3.3 percent) declined in March. The jobless rates for adult men (3.4 percent), teenagers (10.0 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (6.2 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent) showed little change over the month.

Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers decreased by 191,000 to 1.4 million in March and is little different from its February 2020 level of 1.3 million.

The number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed over the month at 787,000 and has essentially returned to its February 2020 level. The number of job leavers—that is, unemployed persons who quit or voluntarily left their previous job and began looking for new employment--fell by 176,000 to 787,000 in March.

In March, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 274,000 to 1.4 million. This measure is 307,000 higher than in February 2020. The long-term unemployed accounted for 23.9 percent of all unemployed persons in March.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.4 percent, changed little in March. The employment-population ratio increased by 0.2 percentage point to 60.1 percent. Both measures remain below their February 2020 values (63.4 percent and 61.2 percent, respectively).

The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job increased by 382,000 to 5.7 million in March, following a decrease of a similar magnitude in the prior month. This measure is above its February 2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the four weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.

Nearly half of Americans are driving less than before the COVID-19 pandemic, but don’t ask them to give up their cars, a new survey from Chase Auto found.

Customers also said they’ve changed the way they shop for cars in the last two years, but most still want the in-person experience of a dealership. 

In the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, customers have shifted how they use their vehicle and how it makes them feel.

  • 45% are driving less than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 92% say their vehicle has allowed them to reach essential destinations during the pandemic.
  • 66% feel their vehicle offered them financial freedom, opportunities, and control during the pandemic.
  • One in five use their personal vehicle to do their job, not just to get there.
  • Two in five are taking trips by car versus other modes of transportation with 80% saying that it makes them feel safer.
  • With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to lift, 53% have planned road trips for this year, especially this summer. 

While a lack of inventory, changing financial situations, and concerns of COVID-19 exposure have impacted the car buying process, two in five people surveyed have acquired a vehicle since the beginning of the pandemic. Shoppers have enjoyed the option of researching or searching inventory online, but the dealer is still an incredibly important piece to the car buying experience.

  • 77% want to visit the dealer or test drive the car
  • 57% want to talk in-person to a knowledgeable salesperson
  • 85% want to pick up their car at the dealership

Two out of three repeat car buyers said they would stay with the same brand, although the same number of people actually purchased a different one. Fifty-eight percent also changed the type of car they bought with only 4% switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Peter Muriungi, CEO of Chase Auto.

“I had trouble finding inventory at the price and type of vehicle I wanted, this was the reason I changed brands” said one survey respondent who purchased a new car during the pandemic. Despite recent challenges, most think they got a fair deal and invested the expected amount of time in their purchase.

“The longtime American love of cars grew during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Peter Muriungi, CEO of Chase Auto. “Their vehicle put them in control, kept them safe, and got them to essential destinations. That’s why we’ll continue to finance purchases, no matter how and where consumers choose to buy.”

Chase Auto surveyed 1,000 people, ages 18 and over who currently own or lease a vehicle. Interviews were conducted online Feb. 16-28, 2022, and the sample was balanced to be nationally representative by age, geography and race according to latest census figures.

At a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, officials said they expect inflation to return to its 2 percent objective and the labor market to remain strong.

To hit these goals, the committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 0.25% - 0.50%, while anticipating “that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate.”

The board said the implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are “highly uncertain,” but will likely create near-term “upward pressure on inflation.”

In addition, the Committee expects to begin reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities at a coming meeting.

“Indicators of economic activity and employment have continued to strengthen,” the board reported. “Job gains have been strong in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined substantially. Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher energy prices, and broader price pressures.

“In assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, the Committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook. The Committee would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the Committee's goals. The Committee's assessments will take into account a wide range of information, including readings on public health, labor market conditions, inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and financial and international developments.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.8 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.6 percent in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Over the last 12 months, the all-items index increased 7.9 percent before seasonal adjustment. Increases in the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and food were the largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all-items increase. The gasoline index rose 6.6 percent in February and accounted for almost a third of the all-items monthly increase; other energy component indexes were mixed. The food index rose 1.0 percent as the food at home index rose 1.4 percent; both were the largest monthly increases since April 2020.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.5 percent in February following a 0.6-percent increase the prior month. The shelter index was by far the biggest factor in the increase, with a broad set of indexes also contributing, including those for recreation, household furnishings and operations, motor vehicle insurance, personal care, and airline fares. The all-items index rose 7.9 percent for the 12 months ending in February. The 12-month increase has been steadily rising and is now the largest since the period ending January 1982. The all items less food and energy index rose 6.4 percent, the largest 12-month change since the period ending August 1982. The energy index rose 25.6 percent over the last year, and the food index increased 7.9 percent, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending July 1981.

The food index increased 1.0 percent in February as the food at home index increased 1.4 percent over the month. All six major grocery store food group indexes increased in February. The index for nonalcoholic beverages increased 1.6 percent in February.

The energy index rose 3.5 percent in February following a 0.9-percent increase in January. The gasoline index rose sharply in February, increasing 6.6 percent after falling 0.8 percent in January. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 5.4 percent in February.) The index for natural gas increased in February, rising 1.5 percent after declining 0.5 percent in January. In contrast, the electricity index, which rose sharply in January, declined 1.1 percent in February. The energy index rose 25.6 percent over the past 12 months with all major energy component indexes increasing. The index for gasoline rose 38.0 percent over the last year and the index for natural gas rose 23.8 percent. The index for electricity rose 9.0 percent for the 12 months ending February.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 678,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care, and construction. 

The number of unemployed persons edged down to 6.3 million. Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff, at 888,000 in February, was little changed over the month. The number of permanent job losers, at 1.6 million in February, also changed little. Both measures are higher than their February 2020 levels of 780,000 and 1.3 million, respectively.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.7 million. This measure is 581,000 higher than in February 2020. The long-term unemployed accounted for 26.7 percent of the total unemployed in February 2022. The labor force participation rate, at 62.3 percent in February, changed little over the month. The employment-population ratio edged up to 59.9 percent. Both measures remain below their February 2020 levels. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by 418,000 to 4.1 million in February but remains below its February 2020 level of 4.4 million. 

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. decreased by 0.3 percent in January to 119.6 (2016 = 100), following a 0.7 percent increase in December and a 0.8 percent increase in November.

“The U.S. LEI posted a small decline in January, as the Omicron wave, rising prices, and supply chain disruptions took their toll,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board. “Initial claims for unemployment insurance, consumers’ outlook and declines in stock prices, and the average work week in manufacturing all contributed to the decline—the first since February 2021.

“Despite this month’s decline and a deceleration in the LEI’s six-month growth rate, widespread strengths among the leading indicators still point to continued, albeit slower, economic growth into the spring. However, labor shortages, inflation, and the potential of new COVID-19 variants pose risks to growth in the near term.

“The Conference Board forecasts GDP growth for Q1 to slow somewhat from the very rapid pace of Q4 2021. Still, the U.S. economy is projected to expand by a robust 3.5 percent year-over-year in 2022—well above the pre-pandemic growth rate, which averaged around 2 percent.”

The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index for the U.S. increased by 0.5 percent in January to 107.9 (2016 = 100), following a 0.2 percent increase in both December and November.

The Conference Board Lagging Economic Index for the U.S. increased by 0.7 percent in January to 110.2 (2016 = 100), following a 0.4 percent increase in December and a 0.1 percent increase in November.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.0 percent and total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 467,000 in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Employment growth continued in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in retail trade, and in transportation and warehousing.

Both the unemployment rate, at 4.0 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.5 million, changed little in January. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down by 2.4 percentage points, and the number of unemployed persons declined by 3.7 million.

In February 2020, prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, and unemployed persons numbered 5.7 million.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.8 percent) and Whites (3.4 percent) edged up in January. The jobless rates for adult women (3.6 percent), teenagers (10.9 percent), Blacks (6.9 percent), Asians (3.6 percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent) showed little or no change over the month.


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration withdrew the vaccination and testing temporary standard issued on Nov. 5, 2021, to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus. OSHA’s move was effective Jan. 26. This follows the U.S Supreme Court ruling on Jan. 13, blocking the mandate for non-healthcare workers.

The OSHA ruling would have required more than 84 million workers to get vaccinated for COVID-19, or pay for weekly testing, by Feb. 9.

Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.

OSHA strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.

During 2021, dealer usage of Manheim’s offsite wholesale channels skyrocketed, with Manheim Express alone experiencing triple digit growth year-over-year. This trend of dealers increasingly wholesaling from their lots is one of the biggest changes to come out of the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manheim Express is the quickest and easiest way to get vehicles into the broader Manheim Marketplace, where dealer lots and lanes meet.

Around half of offsite sellers say that selling from the lot is more important now to how they do business (more than any other channel). The same number—around half—predict that all wholesale sales from dealers will come from the dealership lot in the future. Those dealers said some of the top benefits of offsite selling are that it is easy, saves time, and gives them the ability to retail the vehicle while it is listed in wholesale, helping them sell their vehicles faster.

“COVID significantly changed the wholesale industry, speeding up digital wholesale adoption by highlighting just how effective it can be,” said Connie Suozzo, vice president, Manheim Digital. “Manheim’s offsite channels bring with them a whole new level of efficiencies, and we have been investing heavily in our offsite experience—particularly Manheim Express—to help dealers buy and sell inventory from anywhere.”

In total, Manheim offsite volumes have increased 123% year-over-year, with much of that growth being driven by Manheim Express, which increased over 200% in the same timeframe. To support this growth, Manheim more than doubled the size of the Manheim Express Concierge team, and the company continues to invest in this area. Over 15,000 unique dealers have listed with Manheim Express in 2021 alone.

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