ADP said that manufacturers added 2,000 workers on net in November, extending the 4,000 increase observed in December. That followed declines in five of the seven months prior to that, highlighting the softness of employment growth in the sector for the year as a whole. Indeed, hiring was essentially flat in 2015, easing sharply after adding 1.35 million workers in 2014. A strong dollar, weaknesses in the energy sector and sluggish export growth have combined to challenge manufacturers in the United States, with demand, production and hiring growth all dampened. Hopefully, we will begin to see a rebound in activity in 2016; although, expectations remain muted with lingering headwinds.
Meanwhile, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 257,000 in December. That was the strongest monthly job gain in 12 months, and it was an improvement from the 211,000 figure seen in November. There were 2.39 million more nonfarm payrolls workers added in 2015, slowing somewhat from the 2.87 million pace achieved in 2014. In December, the largest job gains were in professional and business services (up 66,000); trade, transportation and utilities (up 38,000); construction (up 24,000) and financial activities (up 13,000). Small and medium-sized businesses (e.g., those with less than 500 employees) accounted for more than 62 percent of all net new workers in December.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release official job numbers for November on Friday, with a consensus estimate of around 210,000. At the same time, hiring in the manufacturing sector is expected to remain soft, but like the ADP figures, I would expect it to be slightly positive. This would indicate some progress after shedding 1,000 workers in November, with flat job growth for all of 2015.