December 13, 2020

Trend Watch and New This Week

Activity has generally improved following the Thanksgiving holiday, which is readily apparent in the mobility trends. (These data series are based on anonymized smartphone data.)

Sadly, though, our hunch about US pandemic trends worsening following the Thanksgiving holiday has materialized this past week (slide 3). We updated the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and are hopeful that the recent improvement holds (slide 5).

We show some additional data regarding cases and death by age (slide 6). In the US, the bulk of COVID cases are younger people, but deaths are devastating older folks. Also, women have a higher infection rate, but a much lower death rate than men. When considering race/ethnicity (slide 7), Whites account for more total COVID deaths than all other races combined, but African-Americans are dying at nearly twice the rate of Whites.

Lastly, we updated the apartment rental payments data (slide 8). Rental payments have been surprisingly steady, which we believe is bolstered by the support from the CARES Act as well as the solid wage and income trend.

Meanwhile, container traffic at key US ports broke a new all-time record in October and continued to climb through November based on preliminary data.

Bottom Line

The worsening of US virus-related trends remain problematic. While US virus trends appear better than in some European countries (especially Germany), there is little to cheer about, particularly on a human level.

We reiterate our view that we expect continued localized restrictions and do not anticipate widespread US lockdowns. That said, deteriorating virus trends are pushing back further reopenings. For the second time in as many weeks, the US-based cruise industry extended cancellations further into 2021, now until March and beyond. Additionally, localized restrictions punched weekly jobless claims, especially in California, Illinois, Texas and New York.

We maintain our general optimism about the US recovery path. The US economic recovery remains in the early innings. Still, within the US, the recovery will continue to be uneven—both by industry and region.