Afternoon Coffee: Unemployment filings see 4th straight week of decline in improving economy; Tropical Storm Eta soaks Florida; SIG talks procurement trends, Future 5 start-ups with Spend Matters

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The U.S. Labor Department on Thursday reported that first-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 709,000 last week, representing a continuing decline, according to CNBC.

The numbers counted another coronavirus pandemic-era low, a sign that the labor market is gradually improving from the initial shocks this spring. The 709,000 claims were down from 757,000 a week before. Economists expected 740,000 new claims, the article said.

Last week’s numbers marked the fourth consecutive week that the total declined from the previous period. Still, more than 21 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits, but the total number is declining gradually, the article reported.

“Over the short-term, the stock market is watching labor market data through the lens of stimulus prospects,” Kenny Polcari, managing partner at Kace Capital Advisors, told CNBC. “Worsening jobs data strengthens the case for more stimulus and vice versa. More stimulus is usually welcomed by investors."

Tropical Storm Eta brings heavy rain, shutdowns of schools and airports to Florida

Tropical Storm Eta is continuing to dump heavy rain on Florida’s west coast as it moves over northern Florida after making landfall near Tampa Bay on Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press.

The storm is forecast to dissipate over the western Atlantic Ocean by the weekend. The storm prompted school officials in Pasco and Pinellas counties to send students home early on Wednesday and closed Thursday. Tampa International Airport suspended operations Wednesday afternoon, but was up and running early Thursday after the storm passed, the article said.

Eta is the 28th named storm in an extremely busy Atlantic hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. A 29th storm, Theta, is located far out in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles from the Azores, the Associated Press reported.

Spend Matters and SIG team up to talk procurement trends, start-ups

This week, Spend Matters’ research analyst Nick Heinzmann joined the Sourcing Industry Group’s CEO Dawn Tiura to talk about our Future 5 list of interesting start-ups for procurement tech and discuss some of the trends he sees in the procurement field.

Spend Matters named graphiteConnectPrewaveTeampayTrakti and Utmost to its list of start-ups making waves in the procurement space. Heinzmann talked a bit about each Future 5 start-up while providing insight into the procurement industry as a whole — including technology adoption, risk management, COVID-19’s impact on the industry and other important topics.

As many companies and people look to the next year, Tiura and Heinzmann talked about investments — where funds are going today and the trends Heinzmann sees for 2021.

“We were just talking about risk, I think we’re going to see a huge knockdown effect from the pandemic,” Heinzmann said. “But some of the other areas that are interesting, I’ll give two real quick here. B2B payments is one we get so many questions about both from the organizations that we work with and the investment community. ... It’s a massive opportunity for companies to go after. There are trillions of dollars in B2B payments.”

The second hot investment: “An emerging focus on direct materials procurement specialists. There have been in the past, to be sure, several vendors in the space that focus specifically in manufacturing. But, more and more, I see new ventures that are analytics just for commodities price risk management or supplier collaboration on quarterly price updates. ... Direct materials can be so complicated, as we can see from the supply chains that were disrupted or stretched to their breaking point this year, there’s a lot more to be done with optimizing these processes.”

For more insight into the analytics and investments in procurement, view the full recording on LinkedIn.

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