The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that overall nonfarm payrolls increased by 103,000 in September, and it also upwardly-revised data for the past two months. The previous estimate for nonfarm payroll growth in August was zero, but that is now changed to an increase of 57,000 jobs for the month.
Overall, there are over 1 million net new jobs created in the economy this year. As the BLS press release clearly states, 45,000 of the jobs in the September numbers came from the return of telecommunications workers from their strike.
Manufacturers shed 13,000 workers in September, which added to the loss of 4,000 employees in the sector in August. Overall, the manufacturing industry has increased employment by 176,000 since the beginning of this year and 285,000 since December 2009.
Looking at specific sectors within manufacturing, there were sources of strength for hiring. This included chemicals (up by 1,400 workers), machinery (up 2,800), plastics and rubber products (up 1,400), primary metals (up 1,400 workers) and transportation (up 1,000). Sectors with the largest declines included fabricated metal products (down 2,900), furniture and related products (down 3,600), printing and related support activities (down 4,200), miscellaneous manufacturing (down 3,000) and textile product mills (down 2,200). In total, durable goods sectors lost 8,000 jobs in the month, while nondurable goods declined 5,000.
The average workweek in manufacturing edged slightly lower, from 40.3 hours in August to 40.2 hours in September, but the average amount of overtime was up from 3.1 to 3.2 hours. Essentially, average hours worked in the week were unchanged. Meanwhile, average weekly earnings slid from $954.71 to $953.14.
These numbers continue to show that the manufacturing sector is experiencing some significant weaknesses. This contrasts with its robust growth earlier this year. While some segments of the industry and some regions of the country are faring better, sluggish economic growth, worries about the global marketplace and sagging consumer and business confidence are taking a toll. It is imperative that this situation reverse itself so that manufacturers can return to higher levels of production and employment. Policymakers need to implement pro-growth policies now.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.
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