We have seen a steady stream of good economic numbers in the past few weeks, including today’s jobs numbers. First and foremost, the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, its lowest level since August 2007. At the same time, nonfarm payrolls rose by 178,000, which was on par with the consensus estimate of around 180,000. Overall, this mirrors healthier figures for consumer spending and improved business sentiment in recent data, and these reports show that the U.S. economy has strengthened. This should help cement a Federal Reserve rate hike at their upcoming meeting on December 13-14.
Despite these positives, manufacturers have continued to struggle, as evidenced by the loss of 4,000 workers in November, with 60,000 fewer workers on net year-to-date. It was the fourth straight monthly decline for employment in the sector. Moving forward, manufacturing leaders are cautiously optimistic about demand and production for 2017, and we would expect that this increase in activity would lead to additional hiring.
With that said, it’s clear the incoming administration, which has touted manufacturing as a top priority, has its work cut out for it. Manufacturers look forward to working with the next Administration and Congress to enact policies – from infrastructure, to comprehensive tax reform – that will help spur America’s manufacturing economy. To this end, as an extension of the NAM’s Competing to Win policy platform, the NAM will be releasing individual policy white papers in the coming weeks. Each white paper will focus on a specific policy priority that manufacturers urge the incoming presidential administration and Congress to focus on and will be send to the respective transition teams.
There are also things the current Congress/administration can do to help grow jobs including take action to restore the Ex-Im Bank to full functionality. As long as Ex-Im cannot fully operate, manufacturers in the U.S. will continue to lose manufacturing jobs to our foreign competitors.