Manufacturers added 6,000 workers in April, marking the fifth straight month of job gains in the sector. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent, the lowest since May 2007. Business leaders in the manufacturing sector are more upbeat in their economic outlook so far in 2017, with demand and production expanding modestly once again. As a result, hiring appears to be less cautious this year, especially relative to the loss of 16,000 workers on net seen last year. Small and medium-sized manufacturers have been essential to the turnaround in employment conditions – something that we are quite mindful of during Small Business Week. More than three-fourths of the job gains in the ADP report released earlier in the week emanated from small and medium-sized enterprises, and they account for the bulk of our membership at the NAM.
While we have seen manufacturing turn the corner economically globally, much of the increase in optimism of late stems from an expectation of more pro-growth policies emanating from Washington. Already, we have had positive engagements with the new Trump Administration, as noted in our recent thank-you campaign surrounding the first 100 days, especially when it comes to regulatory relief and a willingness to listen to the priorities of the business community.
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