The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that job openings in manufacturing fell from 237,000 in May to 215,000 in June, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). That was the fewest number of job postings in the sector in two years, and it represented a continuation of the decline in openings from the recent high of 310,000 in June 2012, one year ago. The percentage of job openings as a percentage of total employment in the sector, or the job openings rate, has decreased from 2.5 percent to 1.8 percent over the course of the past 12 months. This backs up other data showing a hesitance to bring on new workers right now.
As further evidence of this, net hiring has been negative for four straight months, with the number of hires lower than separations over that time. (The JOLTS data have a time lag, and we learned last week that manufacturers added 6,000 workers in July, with 9,100 of those coming from the automotive sector.)
In June, manufacturers hired 225,000 workers, down from 239,000 in May. This was still an improvement from March’s 201,000 hires, the recent low point. At the same time, manufacturing separations — including layoffs, quits, and retirements — declined from 249,000 to 229,000. This implies net hiring of -4,000 for the month, or slightly better than the -10,000 observed in May.
Meanwhile, the story was somewhat different in the larger economy. The number of job openings rose somewhat from 3,907,000 in May to 3,936,000 in June. Despite the higher number, the job openings rate remained the same at 2.8 percent, essentially where it has been for much of the past year. Sectors with more job openings in June included accommodation and food services, construction, professional and business services, and retail trade. Moreover, net hiring grew from 109,000 in May to 120,000 in June.
Overall, jobs growth remains modest at best in the macroeconomy, but for manufacturers, the reduction in job openings and hiring illustrate a hesitance to add new workers at the current time. It will be important moving forward to get manufacturers flourishing again, which should allow for improvements in hiring.