The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 69,000 net new jobs in May, with manufacturing up just 12,000. This is another disappointing labor report which is consistent with recent weaknesses we’ve seen in the global and domestic marketplace. Several other recent economic indicators have shown growth easing in the spring months. Both manufacturers and consumers are anxious about Europe and uncertain about long-term tax policies.
The unemployment rate edged slightly higher to 8.2 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April. Looking at the so-called real unemployment rate, which includes discouraged and underemployed workers, that figure rose from 14.5 percent to 14.8 percent.
Manufacturers have increased employment over the past six months by 173,000 net workers, or 16.5 percent of all of the nonfarm payroll jobs added during that time. Since the end of 2009 manufacturing has added 487,000 workers.
The sector remains a bright spot, with outsized contributions to both employment and output but we have to do much better in order to continue to drive economic growth. Manufacturers need policies from Washington which will enable them to invest, create jobs and remain competitive against global competition. Currently they are facing many difficult challenges and headwinds which are negatively impacting job growth.
Durable goods industries added 13,000 jobs in May, with nondurable companies shedding 1,000. The fastest growth was seen in motor vehicles (up 5,800), fabricated metals (up 5,700), primary metals (up 3,800), beverage and tobacco products (up 2,700) and machinery (up 2,500).
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.