The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that there were 336,000 manufacturing job openings in January, the fastest pace in six months. It is also worth noting that the number of job posting in December was revised lower, down from an original estimate of 365,000 openings to 317,000. In general, job openings pulled back in the second half of 2015 after reaching an all-time high in July at 366,000. Overall, the number of job postings has exceeded 300,000 in 11 of the past 13 months, and this provides some optimism for faster hiring growth moving forward, especially once demand and production accelerate once more. Both durable (up from 174,000 to 183,000) and nondurable (up from 143,000 to 153,000) goods manufacturers posted more jobs in January, with the openings for nondurable goods firms achieving a new record level.
Manufacturers hired 277,000 workers in January, up from 274,000 in December. There was an increase in hiring for durable goods businesses (up from 163,000 to 168,000), but this was slightly offset by a decline from nondurable goods manufacturers (down from 112,000 to 110,000). At the same time, manufacturing job separations – which include quits, layoffs and retirements – dropped for the fifth straight month, down from 263,000 to 258,000. As such, net hiring (or hires minus separations) was 19,000 in January, up from 11,000 in both November and December. This was good news in that it suggests that hiring has stabilized from net declines seen in the autumn months.
In the larger economy, nonfarm job openings accelerated from 5,281,000 to 5,541,000. This was shy of the all-time high of 5,788,000 reached in July, but it remained a very strong figure. There were increased job openings in nearly every major sector except for educational services, financial activities, information and state and local government. Beyond job openings, net hiring in the overall economy decreased from 273,000 to 126,000, a relatively soft pace.