March’s Manufacturing Jobs Data Continues Positive Trend, Slowly

By April 1, 2011Economy, General

Bureau of Labor Statistics data for March employment showed further growth in manufacturing employment, but at a lesser rate than for the first two months of the year. March manufacturing employment grew by 17,000, to 11.667 million. This compares to a 53,000 in January and 32,000 in February. March thus marked the second month of declining employment gains, though the March increase was significantly better than the November-December 2010 gains (see chart below).

The entire increase in March manufacturing employment was in the durable goods sector. Of the 17,000 jobs added in durable goods, the major gainers were fabricated metal products (up 8200 employees), machinery (up 4,900), and transportation equipment (up 6,100). The largest durable goods category in which employment fell was electrical equipment and appliances (down 1,900). Total durable goods employment in March was 7.227 million.

Non-durable goods employment showed no change, holding steady at 4.44 million employees. Employment in food manufacturing dropped by 2,800 employees, while the paper, printing, and petroleum products sectors each gained 800 workers.

The March employment figures are consistent with the manufacturing shipments data and industrial production data for the year so far, which show a continued gradual recovery from the 2008-09 manufacturing recession. Compared to March 2010, manufacturing jobs are up by 196,000, comprised of a durable goods gain of 217,000 and a nondurable goods employment drop of 21,000.

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