U.S. manufacturing activity expanded and hiring at factories picked up in May, signs of healthy growth for a key sector of the economy. The Institute for Supply Management on Thursday said its closely watched index of U.S. manufacturing activity inched ahead to 54.9 in May from 54.8 in April. A number above 50 indicates expansion. ISM manufacturing readings for each month this year have now been higher than any month in 2015 or 2016.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a high price tag torpedoed a government takeover of health care. In 2014, Vermont’s attempt at single-payer ended abruptly when Gov. Peter Shumlin rejected the 11.5% payroll tax hike and 9.5% individual tax hike required to fund the program. Yet the financial costs of single-payer are practically negligible compared with the human costs.
Consider the Department of Veterans Affairs’ scandal-plagued single-payer health program. Last month, the agency’s inspector general found that more than 100 veterans died while waiting for care at a Los Angeles VA facility between October 2014 and August 2015.
Sales at U.S. stores, restaurants and online retailers increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in April from the prior month, the largest gain in three months, the Commerce Department said Friday. Also, the University of Michigan reported its consumer-sentiment index rose to 97.7 in early May—the strongest reading since January, when sentiment reached a 13-year high.
San Francisco’s ever-rising minimum wage—set to hit $15 next year—has restaurant owners asking for the check. “At Least 60 Bay Area Restaurants Have Closed Since September,” read a January headline at the website SFist, which partly blamed “the especially high cost of doing business in SF, with a mandated, rising minimum wage that does not exempt tipped employees.” Another publication, Eater, described the rash of recent closures as a “death march.”
Labor costs, too, are on the rise. The construction industry unemployment rate, at 6.3% last month, has fallen back to its levels during the housing boom. On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that the quits rate—the share of people leaving construction jobs voluntarily and a sign that they think they can get new jobs easily—stood at 2.5% in March, the highest since early 2008.