Friday Five | June 24, 2022

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.

1. The first 100 days: Maryland candidates for governor lay out early priorities 

Less than four weeks from Maryland’s primary elections, candidates for governor continue pitching their priorities to voters. For Democrats, it’s a commitment to responding to climate change and various other issues. Republicans promise to reign in taxes and government spending, among other priorities. As a way of helping to inform voters about candidates’ policies and goals, Maryland Matters reached out to all candidates who will be on the general election ballot in November to explain how they would spend their first 100 days in office if elected. Twelve of 16 candidates for governor responded, including one third-party candidate, who will be on the general election ballot in November.

Read the full story here. 

2. What is a federal gas tax holiday

The Biden administration announced a plan to give Americans a three-month break on the federal gas tax to alleviate some of the pressure over soaring fuel prices. The federal gas tax holiday would temporarily suspend the current 18.4 cents federal gas tax imposed on those producing the gasoline, potentially reducing gas prices. However, if oil and gas companies, from whom the tax is collected, don’t pass the tax savings on to consumers, the savings for Americans could be less. In response to this, Senators Maggie Hassan and Mark Kelly introduced legislation in February that would suspend the federal gas tax until next year and would pass any price relief directly to the consumers instead of oil and gas companies.

A federal gas tax holiday could potentially give motorists some relief at the pump, but it could also negatively impact the country’s infrastructure. According to Kiplinger, a business and finance news site, nearly $15 billion in tax revenue to help pay for U.S. highways would be lost. Temporarily suspending the gas tax is just one of the few ways the federal government can cut gas prices. Other options include tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, encouraging oil production and allowing more ethanol in gasoline.

Read the full story here.

Following President Biden’s call for federal gas tax relief, Governor Hogan called on the Maryland General Assembly to open a special session to pass an emergency bill suspending the state’s gas tax. Read the full story here.

3. Maryland gained 10,500 jobs in May but economist warns ‘sentiment is turning’

Maryland gained 10,500 jobs in May as the unemployment rate declined, falling to the lowest since the pandemic began to 4%. However, Regional Economist at the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank Adam Scavette warned that rising inflation and fears of a recession could soon hamper the state’s continued recovery from the pandemic. In May, the Consumer Price Index rose 8.6% year-over-year, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, which aims to measure consumer attitudes, recently hit an all-time low. Businesses are concerned too, Scavette added. He pointed to the Richmond Fed’s Maryland business survey released last month, which showed business owners’ expectations index slide into negative territory.

“Sentiment is turning. We don’t see it a lot in the real data yet. The job numbers look good overall but sentiment from businesses and consumers are definitely concerning right now and I think a lot of that is due to inflation,” said Scavette.

Read the full story here.

4. Small businesses fall behind on hiring as inflation takes a toll 

According to ADP payroll data, head counts at companies with fewer than 50 employees have declined in three of the past four months despite continued growth in employment at larger firms. Owners of many small businesses say inflation has added to the pressures of an already tight job market, making it increasingly difficult to compete with larger companies that offer higher wages and better benefits. According to a June survey of more than 825 small businesses for the Wall Street Journal, 63% of small business owners say that hiring challenges are affecting their ability to operate at full capacity, hindering their growth and economic health. Even some larger companies that saw significant growth during the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning to take a more cautious approach to hiring, which could present an opportunity for small business owners down the road. But for now, “small firms are still playing catch up,” said ADP Chief Economist Nela Richardson.

Read the full story here.

5. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Worker shortages cripple pools and attractions for a second year

Tuesday marked the first day of summer, and with hotter temperatures on their way, families are getting ready for quality time at pools, amusement parks, beach towns and boardwalks. But the nation does not have enough workers to operate at 100% for the busy summer season. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows we have 11.4 million open jobs, and only 6 million unemployed workers to fill them. Manager of Communications and Strategy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Lindsay Cates talks about the crippling impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our nation’s workforce and how businesses in the amusement and recreation industry are responding.

Read the full story here.

Exclusive opportunity for Maryland business leaders!

Webinar | The Forces Shaping the Future of Work

Wednesday, July 20 | 11 AM – 12 PM 

In partnership with UnitedHealthcare

Gain critical insight from Advisory Board experts who will present current workforce trends and how employers can adapt to retain and attract talent that will boost overall business performance.

Webinar is free to attend! 






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Introducing the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s New Mission & Strategic Plan