The Bureau of Labors Statistics reported that net hiring in July in the manufacturing was zero, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report. In other words, the number of hires equaled the number of separations for the month. Both figures had increased, with hiring up from 225,000 in June to 234,000 in July and separations up from 224,000 to 234,000. Overall hiring has stalled for the past 12 months, with the average over that time for net hiring being nearly unchanged. This compares to 22 net new workers added on average each month from January to July 2012. Over the past year-and-a-half, the peak hiring occurred in June 2012 with 283,000 new hires added that month. Clearly, manufacturers have become more skittish on hiring since then.
Meanwhile, manufacturing job postings recovered their losses of June. The number of job openings in the sector rose from 210,000 in June to 237,000 in July, the level experienced in May. Despite the increase, postings from manufacturers remain subpar, down significantly from its recent high of 324,000 in March 2012. In addition, the year-to-date average so far in 2013 was 246,000.
In the larger economy, the dynamic employment data were mixed. The country added 4,419,000 workers in July, up from 4,318,000 in June. Even with the increase, both figures represented 3.2 percent of the total workforce. Monthly gains in employment in the retail trade, professional business services, and healthcare sectors helped to offset declines in leisure and hospitality and essentially flat hiring in construction.
At the same time, though, the number of job postings fell from 3,869,000 in June to 3,689,000 in July, a decline from 2.8 percent to 2.6 percent of the workforce. These losses were largely across-the-board. In essence, the decline wiped out the increases experienced between February and June. The average over those five months was 3,870,000, illustrating the substantive decline in July. The number of job openings in July was more comparable to January’s figure of 3,611,000.
Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.