The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing job openings pulled back in August but remained elevated relative to net hiring. Postings in the sector fell from 379,000 in July to 337,000 in August. Openings have drifted lower since achieving an all-time high of 397,000 observed in April. Through the first eight months of 2016, job openings have averaged 352,000 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, despite some easing in this report, which gives us optimism for faster hiring growth moving forward. In the August data, both durable (down from 223,000 to 194,000) and nondurable (down from 156,000 to 143,000) goods firms had slower job opening rates, but the July numbers also appear to be a bit of an outlier based on recent trends.
Meanwhile, net hiring has been positive for three consecutive months. This represents an improvement from net declines from February through May. Total hiring edged up from 276,000 to 277,000 in this release, but total separations – which include quits, layoffs and retirements – ticked up from 263,000 to 269,000. Hiring increased for nondurable goods firms (up from 113,000 to 124,000), but this was mostly offset by reduced hiring among durable goods manufacturers (down from 163,000 to 153,000). Overall, net hiring (or hiring minus separations) equaled 8,000 in August, off slightly from 13,000 in July. Hopefully, growth in job openings translate to more hiring moving forward, particularly when demand and production activity in the sector accelerate.
In the larger economy, nonfarm job openings declined from 5,831,000 in July, an all-time high, to 5,443,000 in August. Job postings were mostly lower across-the-board, with the exception of increased openings in the month for finance and insurance and leisure and hospitality. Beyond openings, net hiring in the overall economy was strong but somewhat softer in this report, down from 267,000 in July to 256,000 in August.