JOLTS: Manufacturing Job Openings Pulled Back Somewhat in June, but Remained Encouraging

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing job openings pulled back somewhat in June. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) said that job postings in the sector declined from 333,000 in May to 308,000 in June. The May pace had been the highest since July 2007 (even as it was revised down from the original estimate of 347,000). Despite the easing, this continues an upward trend for openings for manufacturers, with an average of 326,000 through the first six months of 2015, up from an average of 290,000 for all of 2014. More importantly, the increased rate of job openings should bode well for stronger hiring activity moving forward. (continue reading…)

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NFIB: Small Business Optimism Increased a Little in July, with Owners Still Somewhat Anxious

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said that optimism increased a little in July, partially rebounding from the decline seen in June. The Small Business Optimism Index rose from 94.1 in June to 95.4 in July, but this figure remains below the 98.3 registered in May. As such, the data pointed to progress for the month, even as it continued to highlight nagging anxieties about the economy. Index values under 100 usually coincide with softer economic growth for small firms. On the positive side, the percentage of respondents saying that it was a “good time to expand” jumped from 9 percent to 12 percent for the month, which, while encouraging, remained somewhat below the 16 percent observed in December. Economic conditions and the political climate cited as the top concerns for those suggesting that was not the right time for expansion. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Productivity Rebounded Modestly in the Second Quarter

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing labor productivity increased 2.5 percent in the second quarter, rebounding modestly from the 0.6 percent decline seen in the first quarter. In the second quarter, output rose 1.5 percent, with hours worked decreasing by 1.0 percent. This resulted in unit labor costs falling by 2.3 percent, helping to make the sector more competitive globally and improving upon the weaker-than-desired performance seen at the beginning of the year.

Breaking the second quarter data down further, productivity for durable goods manufacturers grew 3.4 percent, more than outpacing the 1.2 percent gains experienced by nondurable goods firms. Durable goods businesses accomplished this feat with a 1.6 percent decline in hours worked, which reduced unit labor costs by 3.3 percent. For nondurable goods entities, unit labor costs declined by 0.6 percent, with output and hours worked up by 1.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturers Added 15,000 Workers in July, the Fastest Pace Since January

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturers added 15,000 net new workers in July, the fastest pace since January. This was an encouraging figure – one that is closer to the monthly average of last year when activity in the sector was growing more robustly. Yet, it is important to note that manufacturing employment growth in the sector was more spotty than we might prefer, suggesting that we are not out of the woods yet from recent weaknesses. Nondurable goods firms added 23,000 workers, led by food (up 9,100), plastics and rubber products (up 5,800), paper and paper products (up 2,500) and petroleum and coal products (up 1,400). In contrast, durable goods hiring remained challenged, down by 8,000. The largest declines were seen in the computer and electronic products (down 3,100), machinery (down 1,600), motor vehicles and parts (down 1,400) and primary metals (down 1,100). (continue reading…)

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Senate, House MTB Letters Demonstrate Strong Bicameral, Bipartisan Support for New Process

As House and Senate discussions around the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644) continue, one emerging sticking point is whether to include in the final conference report a process that would allow for the elimination of longstanding distortions in the U.S. tariff code by temporarily eliminating taxes on imported products not available in the United States. (continue reading…)

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U.S. Trade Deficit Widened in June; Manufactured Goods Exports Down Year-to-Date

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis said that the U.S. trade deficit widened somewhat in June. The trade deficit rose from $40.94 billion in May to $43.84 billion in June, its highest level in three months. This was largely the result of an increase in goods imports, up from $188.40 billion to $191.06 billion. Goods exports were marginally lower, down from $127.79 billion to $127.56 billion. With that said, despite shifts from month-to-month, the U.S. trade deficit has not changed much over the past year and a half. It averaged $42.62 billion in the first half of 2015, which is only slightly higher than the $42.36 billion average observed in all of 2014. (continue reading…)

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SEC Pay Ratio Rule Brings Millions in New Costs for Manufacturers

The SEC voted 3-2 today to finalize rules implementing the Dodd-Frank Act Section 953(b) requirement that public companies regularly disclose the ratio of employees’ median pay to the compensation of a company’s chief executive. While Commissioner Mary Jo White said that changes were made to the original rule that “should reduce costs for many companies while adhering to the statutory requirements,” the final “pay ratio” rule still creates significant compliance costs and burdens for manufacturers without any benefit for shareholders, as the SEC itself noted in the original proposal. (continue reading…)

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NAM Supports Senate Action on Cyber Bill

Technology and the deployment of it across the shopfloors and throughout the products of the manufacturing industry has raised cybersecurity to a C-suite priority. Manufacturers know that strong cybersecurity means strong economic security. The NAM has therefore joined more than 45 other industry groups calling for passage of S. 754, the Cybersecurity Information Security Act (CISA) of 2015. (continue reading…)

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Pipelines Jump-start Growth

Infrastructure projects play an important role in getting our economy on track. Pipelines create jobs across the construction and manufacturing supply chain, enhance our nation’s energy security and create significant economic value. (continue reading…)

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Congress Needs to Keep Driving

The House of Representatives left Washington to begin its August recess in the middle of a critical Senate debate on a long-term transportation measure, the DRIVE Act. In spite of the House choosing not to wait around a little longer to take up the Senate bill which also included the much needed Export-Import bank reauthorization, the Senate still gave the legislation a strong bipartisan showing and passed H.R. 22 in a 65-34 vote. (continue reading…)

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