• Biden Unveils Infrastructure Plan, US Hotel Occupancy Holds Steady, Private Payrolls Rise Again

    Biden Unveils Infrastructure Plan, US Hotel Occupancy Holds Steady, Private Payrolls Rise Again

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    President Biden's infrastructure plans includes money for road construction on an overpass of Interstate 69 in Indiana. (ITB495/Flickr)
    President Biden's infrastructure plans includes money for road construction on an overpass of Interstate 69 in Indiana.

    Biden Unveils Full Infrastructure Plan

    President Biden proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure plan Wednesday that includes more roads, bridges, public transit and ports as well as a half a million charging stations for electric vehicles to be paid for in part by a tax increase on companies.

    Biden announced the plan at the Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh, two days earlier than originally planned.

    His plan includes $621 billion for transportation projects and $115 billion for modernizing 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets. Another $25 billion would go toward airports and $17 million to inland waterways.

    Beyond traditional infrastructure, Biden wants to have a network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030.

    The housing sector would get $213 billion for affordable and so-called sustainable units, which would include building, renovating and retrofitting more than 2 million housing units.

    Biden’s plan earmarks $300 billion to boost manufacturing, including investment in computer chip manufacturing. Chip production is one of the supply chains the pandemic has disrupted, and now automakers and electronics companies are struggling through a semiconductor shortage.

    Medical manufacturing would get $30 billion to ensure the United States could better handle another pandemic.

    “It's not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” Biden said in a speech detailing the plan. “It's a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we've seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago."

    The plan represents the next big initiative for Biden's new administration after signing the latest federal coronavirus relief plan valued at $1.9 trillion to stimulate the economy.

    Biden and his administration have been pitching the plan as a jobs initiative that puts the country in a better competitive situation with China.

    The plan is a big piece of his “build back better” goal that aims to bring more manufacturing back to the United States.

    One way of paying for it is raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. Biden’s predecessor President Donald Trump succeeded in dropping the rate from 35% to 21% among other tax changes made in 2017.

    Prospects are uncertain: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., raised objections to the plan's "massive" tax increases and impact on the national debt.

    U.S. Hotel Occupancy Holds Steady

    U.S. hotels held steady last week to stay in pandemic-record territory for occupancy.

    Hotels averaged 57.9% occupancy for the week that ended March 27, a percentage point drop from the previous week, according to data from hotel industry research firm STR, part of CoStar Group.

    “It’s normalizing a little bit,” said Kelsey Fenerty, a senior analyst with STR.

    Leisure travelers continue to drive occupancy with little group business beyond weddings and family reunions. Easter weekend could be another test of the leisure travel resilience.

    “Easter is traditionally a slow week because of no groups,” but there haven’t been any groups anyway, Fenerty said.

    U.S. airports have had 20 consecutive days of above 1 million passengers as of Tuesday, according to security checkpoint data from the Transportation Safety Administration.

    Tampa, Florida, maintained the top spot among the 25 largest tourism and convention cities STR tracks in the United States. Phoenix rose above Miami for the second spot with the arrival of spring breakers. They are the only two cities above 70% occupancy.

    In Texas, the McAllen-Brownsville area still is ahead of 2019 occupancy at nearly 83%. South Padre Island, a popular spring break location, is in that market. SpaceX also has a launchpad and production facility in the area.

    Private Payrolls Rise Again

    Private payrolls recorded the third consecutive month of gains with a big bounce that indicates a strengthening economy, payroll company ADP reported Wednesday.

    In March, companies added 517,000 jobs, 341,000 higher than the previous month. The report is roughly on par with expectations for the month.

    Leisure and hospitality lead the way with an increase of 169,000 people on private payrolls, double the growth in professional and business payrolls overall.