Today’s Labor Department jobs report showed employment rose 120,000 in March over February, considerably less than analysts had been expecting, and about half the average gain of the previous three months.
Manufacturing employment, however, was a bright spot in the figures. Outperforming the economy as a whole, the March manufacturing jobs gain accounted for nearly one-third of the entire private sector increase.
Manufacturing employment rose 37,000 in March, the second-strongest gain in the last 12 months, and continuing the manufacturing jobs gain that began in January 2010. Since that time, manufacturing has gained 470,000 jobs – and has seen employment grow 10 percent faster than in the rest of the private sector.
Durable goods employment continued its strong growth pattern, gaining 26 thousand jobs in March. Reflecting resurgent motor vehicle production in the United States, the March employment gain in that sector accounted for nearly half of the entire durable goods employment increase. Non-durable goods employment rose 11,000.
The strong growth in manufacturing that has been going on since January 2010 is clearly visible in the attached graphs, as is the robust performance of the durable goods sector and the lackluster record in non-durables employment.
In order to have robust growth across both the durable goods and non-durable goods sector we need pro-manufacturing policies from Washington that will enable growth.
Frank Vargo is vice president of international economic affairs, National Association of Manufacturers.