Hawaii: A Rapidly Growing Hub for Manufacturing

When people think of Hawaii, they tend to think about warm sunny beaches, palm trees and volcanoes. What they may not realize is the presence of manufacturing in the state and what a huge generator it is for the state’s economy. Manufacturers employed 13,500 workers in Hawaii in May. In addition, manufacturing activity continues to accelerate, with output in the sector growing from $1.3 billion in 2010 to $1.5 billion in 2014. That represents roughly two percent of overall gross state product – a ratio that we anticipate will grow moving forward. (continue reading…)

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JOLTS: Manufacturing Job Openings at their Highest Levels in Nearly 8 Years

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing job openings neared an 8-year high in May. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) release noted that job posting in the sector rose from 335,000 in April to 347,000, the highest level since July 2007. This continues an upward trend for openings among manufacturers, with an average of 332,000 through the first five months of 2015, up from an average of 290,000 for all of 2014. More importantly, it could indicate stronger hiring activity moving forward, which has been quite weak so far this year, mirroring softer economic data in general. (continue reading…)

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U.S. Trade Deficit Edged Slightly Higher in May, Oil Imports at Lowest in 13 Years

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit edged slightly higher, up from $40.70 billion in April to $41.87 billion in May. The deficit has been highly volatile so far this year, ranging from $37.25 billion in February to $50.57 billion in March, but the year-to-date average of $42.57 billion in 2015 is nearly identical to the $42.36 billion average observed in all of 2014. The May increase stemmed largely from a decline in goods exports (down from $129.34 billion to $127.72 billion) that more than offset the decrease in goods imports (down from $189.65 billion to $189.23 billion). At the same time, the service sector trade surplus inched up marginally from $19.62 billion to $19.64 billion. (continue reading…)

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Burdensome, Costly and Useless?

Manufacturers in the United States are the most productive in the world, far surpassing the worker productivity of any other major manufacturing economy, leading to higher wages and living standards. Unfortunately, one of the largest hurdles facing manufacturers is our own federal government. If it would put the right policies in place, our manufacturing engine would be even stronger, which is why the NAM submitted comments late yesterday afternoon, to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) articulating its concerns about two potentially burdensome and costly proposed rules.  Both proposed rules are reporting requirements that come courtesy of the regulatory burdens created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection (Dodd-Frank) Act.    (continue reading…)

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NAM, Business Groups Launch New Corporate Governance Coalition

In a letter sent to the SEC July 2, the NAM joined more than a dozen associations representing businesses of all sizes in announcing the formation of a new coalition that will tackle shareholder activism and other important corporate governance issues. The Corporate Governance Coalition for Investor Value will work to advocate for strong corporate governance policies that promote long-term growth and value for shareholders. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Employment Increased by 4,000 in June

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturers added 4,000 net new workers in June. This was slightly lower than the 7,000 additional employees added in May, and in general, it continues a softer-than-desired pace for the first half of 2015, particularly over the past five months. The sector added an average of just 6,167 workers per month in the first half of this year, a much slower rate of hiring than observed in the second half of 2014, which averaged 20,667 per month. The good news is that manufacturing job gains were positive in both May and June, recovering from being flat in April. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Construction Spending Continued to Rise Sharply in May

The Census Bureau said that private, nonresidential manufacturing construction spending rose sharply, up 6.2 percent in May to an annualized $89.69 billion. This represents a significant shift upward over the past year in construction activity for the sector, up from $52.73 billion in May 2014 and $65.68 billion in December 2014. On a year-over-year basis, manufacturing construction has increased by a whopping 70.1 percent. Moreover, the current level is yet another all-time high for this data series, suggesting that manufacturers are confident enough in their outlook to warrant additional investments. (continue reading…)

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ISM: Manufacturing Activity Picked Up Somewhat in June

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index picked up a little in June. The headline PMI increased from 52.8 in May to 53.5 in June, returning to a level last seen in January. As such, this report indicates that manufacturing activity has begun to recover from the softer demand, output and hiring levels experienced earlier in the year, with a number of economic headlines challenging the sector. Still, that does not mean that manufacturers are out of the woods yet, with activity expanding at a slower pace than desired. To illustrate this point, the manufacturing PMI averaged 56.9 in the second half of 2014, but has averaged 52.6 through the first six months of 2015. (continue reading…)

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ADP: After Three Months of Employment Declines, Manufacturing Hiring Ticked Higher in June

ADP said that manufacturing employment rose by 7,000 in June, ending a three-month period of declines in hiring for the sector. This is welcome news, as it suggests that job growth has begun to recover from weaker economic conditions earlier in the year. Year-to-date, the manufacturing sector has added just 8,000 workers on net. This compares to 164,000 net new jobs generated in 2014, or an average of roughly 13,650 per month. Hopefully, we will return to a similar pace as we move into the second half of 2015.

In the larger economy, nonfarm private businesses added 237,000 workers in June, extending the 203,000 gain observed in May. Nonfarm payrolls have risen by 200,000 or more in 15 of the past 17 months, with the exceptions being in March and April of this year. As with the manufacturing data described above, this indicates a rebound from springtime softness in the overall labor market. (continue reading…)

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You’re Demoted!

Donald Trump turned one of the most feared phrases in the workplace into a punchline. As the star of The Apprentice, Trump famously critiqued contestants in a board room and concluded by telling one of them, “You’re fired.” With the release of a new proposed regulation on overtime, it seems President Obama is rebranding the show’s tagline to “You’re demoted!” (continue reading…)

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