The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing job postings picked up in August, after slowing down for much of the mid-year. Job openings in the sector has risen from 210,000 in June to 234,000 in July to 272,000 in August, the highest level of postings since February. What’s more, the postings rate in August represented 2.2 percent of total manufacturing employment, up from 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, in June and July.
Breaking this down a little more, the job openings improvements in August stemmed mostly from gains in postings from the durable goods sector. Durable goods postings increased from 156,000 to 182,000 for the month (non-seasonally adjusted data). In contrast, nondurable goods job openings declined from 101,000 to 94,000.
The overall improvement in job openings could indicate an uptick of new employment down the line, but for the time being, net hiring remained soft in August. Manufacturers added 231,000 workers in August, up from 222,000 in July. At the same time, there were 229,000 separations in August, down from 238,000 in July. This suggests that net hiring shifting from losing 16,000 workers in the sector in July to adding 2,000 employees in August.
While positive employment growth on net was definitely good news, it is hard to get too excited about such paltry net job gains. Through the first seven months of 2013, the average monthly net job change in manufacturing was -2,125, well below the 16,583 and 12,750 additional workers hired each month on average in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
In the larger economy, total job openings increased from 3,808,000 in July to 3,883,000 in August, boosted by growth in construction, manufacturing, retail sales, health care, and professional and business services. Net hiring slowed, however, down from 224,000 in July to 112,000 in August. Hiring was lower for construction, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and government.