Manufacturing Job Numbers Disappoint, Again

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Despite the rebound in sentiment and activity seen in other measures, manufacturing employment fell for the second month in a row, NAM Reports. There was some hope that job growth might stabilize in this report. Instead, manufacturers lost 13,000 workers on net in September, extending the loss of 16,000 from August. More importantly, and more troubling, manufacturing employment decreased by 58,000 year-to-date, suggesting continuing cautiousness among manufacturing business leaders to add workers in light of lingering weaknesses in the global economy.

Additional data was less pessimistic, but not particularly celebratory. Durable and nondurable goods firms shed 11,000 and 2,000 workers in September, respectively. The largest declines were seen in the food manufacturing (down 4,300), transportation equipment (down 4,200, including a 3,100 decline for motor vehicles and parts), furniture and related products (down 1,700), wood products (down 1,600), computer and electronic products (down 1,500) and fabricated metal products (down 1,500) sectors. In contrast, there were employment gains in September for miscellaneous nondurable goods (up 1,300), nonmetallic mineral products (up 1,300) and textile product mills (up 1,200), among others. Despite the drop in hiring for the month, average weekly earnings in the manufacturing sector moved higher, up from $1,058.85 in August to $1,064.71 in September. On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings have increased from $1,031.65 in September 2015, up 3.2 percent for the 12-month period. Average weekly hours were also up slightly, rising from 40.6 hours to 40.7 hours, with average overtime hours unchanged at 3.3 hours.

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