The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing job openings accelerated in July for the second straight month. Postings in the sector jumped from 361,000 in June to 379,000 in July, even as openings remained below the all-time high of 397,000 observed in April. Through the first seven months of 2016, job openings have averaged 354,000 per month, up from 311,000 for 2015 as a whole. As such, we have continued to see relatively healthy gains in manufacturing job openings, which gives us optimism for faster hiring growth moving forward. In the July data, the increase in job openings stemmed from a pickup in activity for durable goods firms (up from 200,000 to 227,000); whereas, postings for nondurable goods entities (down from 160,000 to 152,000) declined for the third straight month.
Meanwhile, net hiring was also more encouraging, with positive growth for the second consecutive month following four straight months of net declines. This was true in July despite declines in both hiring (down from 281,000 to 274,000) and separations (down from 264,000 to 258,000). Hiring increased for durable goods firms (up from 161,000 to 167,000), but this was offset by reduced hiring among nondurable goods manufacturers (down from 119,000 to 106,000). At the same time, total separations – which include quits, layoffs and retirements – fell to a 12-month low. Overall, net hiring (or hiring minus separations) equaled 16,000 in July, off slightly from 17,000 in June.
In the larger economy, nonfarm job openings hit a new all-time high, up from 5,643,000 in June to 5,871,000 in July. This was enough to beat the previous all-time high set one year ago. Job postings were mostly higher across-the-board, with the exception of reduced openings in the month for health care and social assistance, information, real estate services and state and local government. Beyond openings, net hiring in the overall economy remained picked up, rising from 208,000 in June to 290,000 in July.