New Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that manufacturing hiring increased slightly in February. There were 259,000 hires and 236,000 separations in the month. This suggests net hiring of 23,000 workers in February, a drop-off from January’s net increase of 36,000 due mainly to increased separations activity.
In terms of job postings – an indicator of possible future hiring – manufacturers posted 253,000 new job openings in February, down from 261,000 the previous month.
For the overall economy, the number of job openings rose from 3,477,000 in January to 3,498,000 in February. This represents 2.6 percent of total employment, which has been roughly unchanged for the past three months. Both hirings and separations also rose, with 4,385,000 net new hires and 4,092,000 net new separations.
Of course, it should be noted that these labor turnover data have been somewhat supplanted by more recent jobs data which was released on Friday. Manufacturers added 37,000 net new jobs in March, or 148,000 in the past four months. As such, manufacturing has been a bright spot, especially as the larger nonfarm payroll growth in March was largely disappointing.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.
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