The economy remains a mixed bag for manufacturers, with job numbers drawing back for the second month this year. The numbers indicate obstacles still stand in the way of unleashing the economic potential of the manufacturing sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing employment declined by 16,000 in February, somewhat offsetting the 23,000-worker increase observed in January. In addition, data revisions subtracted another 13,000 workers from the December and January original estimates. As such, manufacturers have added just 7,000 net new workers year-to-date through the first two months of 2016, a sluggish pace that speaks to the ongoing challenges seen in the sector from the strong U.S. dollar and falling commodity prices. Read More
The Conference Board said that consumer sentiment waned again in February, with Americans nervous in their economic outlook. The Consumer Confidence Index dropped from 97.8 in January to 92.2 in February, its lowest level in seven months. Since June of last year, these data have been highly volatile, ranging from a low of 91.0 in July to 102.6 in September, with the latter being the second-highest reading since the recession. (The index peaked at a post-recessionary high of 103.8 in January 2015.) The high degree of change from month-to-month indicates just how anxious the public is right now, with recent financial market volatility likely dampening perceptions in this report. In February, consumers were less upbeat in their assessments of the current (down from 85.3 to 78.9) and future (down from 116.6 to 112.1) economy.
Respondents to this survey are often swayed by pocketbook issues, including worries about labor market prospects, and this release is no different. The percentage of those completing the survey suggesting that jobs were “plentiful” declined from 23.0 percent to 22.1 percent, with those saying that jobs were “hard to get” rising from 23.6 percent to 24.2 percent. In a similar fashion, the percent expecting their incomes to increase in the coming months decreased from 18.6 percent to 17.2 percent, with those predicting declining incomes increasing from 10.7 percent to 12.5 percent.
The latest data on manufacturing employment provides a bit of encouragement for manufacturers that have been beleaguered by the global slowdown and pullbacks in the energy sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing employment rose by 29,000 in January, much stronger than expected at the start of the new year. It was the fourth consecutive monthly job gain and the strongest since November 2014, when manufacturing demand and production were growing more robustly than seen today. There are currently 12.36 million workers in the sector, with manufactures adding 903,000 more employees since the Great Recession. At the same time, it is important to note that employment growth has been quite soft for much of the past year, with the sector adding just 33,000 workers in 2015. Read More
A State of Manufacturing Tour guest blog post by Jim Roche, president of the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide Chamber of Commerce
Today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) kicked off its 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour in New Hampshire—and with good reason! New Hampshire is a hotbed of innovative manufacturing and home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary less than two weeks from now.
Here at the Business & Industry Association (BIA) of New Hampshire, the NAM’s official affiliate in the Granite State, we fight every day for policies that support our manufacturers—our state’s most important job creators. We push state legislators, the governor, our congressional delegation and regulators for public policy and commonsense solutions that are friendly to job creators and promote prosperity for New Hampshire businesses.
At today’s stop, the NAM laid out several key public policies that will help put manufacturing in America on solid ground, including important ideas like fixing our outdated tax code and upgrading old infrastructure to take us toward a more modern economy.
Today’s tour also highlighted the many ways manufacturers are changing our lives for the better. Manufacturing has grown well beyond the outdated images of mill and textile work, particularly in New England. Today, manufacturing leads in electronics, fabricated metals, machinery and technology. And manufacturing is connecting people across continents. The sector offers outstanding jobs and careers for nearly 68,000 New Hampshire workers. New Hampshire’s manufacturers export almost $4 billion of goods around the world every year, bringing new wealth and economic activity into our state’s economy.
As we move deeper into this important election season, manufacturing voters are asking candidates hard questions about how they will help America compete to win in a global economy. No matter the outcome of the election, we need policies that support today’s diverse and dynamic manufacturers. When manufacturing succeeds, we’re all better off.
While Manufacturers had a more positive month than expected, adding 8,000 jobs in December, 2015 will go down one of the softest years for employment growth in the sector since the Great Recession. All in, manufacturers added 30,000 workers on net in 2015, well below the 215,000 workers hired in 2014.
Nondurable goods employment increased by 14,000 workers in December, but total hiring in the manufacturing sector was pulled lower by a reduction of 6,000 employees from durable goods firms. The strongest gains in December were seen in the food manufacturing (up 3,500), miscellaneous durable goods (up 3,500), plastics and rubber products (up 3,300), chemicals (up 2,500) and furniture and related products (up 2,100) sectors. In contrast, machinery (down 6,300), transportation equipment (down 3,300, including a loss of 2,400 for motor vehicles and parts), primary metals (down 2,800) and fabricated metal products (down 1,500) each experienced significant declines for the month. Read More
ADP said that manufacturing employment fell by 2,000 on net in October, declining for the sixth time year-to-date. Indeed, the sector has shed 12,000 workers through the first ten months of 2015, according to ADP, reflecting the significant challenges faced by manufacturers right now. A number of headwinds have hampered demand, production and hiring growth, ranging from the strong dollar to economic softness abroad to lower crude oil prices. To illustrate just how much has changed in the labor market so far this year, manufacturers hired roughly 19,000 new workers per month on average in the second half of 2014, when activity was growing more robustly. Read More
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturers lost 9,000 workers in September, extending the 18,000 declines seen in August. These numbers are disappointing, as they show just how sluggish growth has become in the manufacturing sector over the past few months, mirroring the stagnant ISM data released yesterday. Since January (or over the past eight months), the manufacturing sector has netted zero net new jobs, with 27,000 workers lost in just the past two months. In the second half of 2014, manufacturers were hiring at the more-robust pace of 20,667 workers per month on average, illustrating a significant pullback in employment growth year-to-date. Indeed, manufacturers have grappled for much of this year with headwinds from abroad, a strong U.S. dollar, gridlock in Washington on critical market-opening policies and lower crude oil prices – each of which have combined to dampen demand, production and hiring. Read More
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). Read More
Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:
According to the latest NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers, which will be released this morning, business leaders remain mostly confident about activity over the coming months. In fact, 88.5 percent of respondents said they were either somewhat or very positive about the own company’s outlook, and the data are consistent with 3 percent growth in manufacturing production over the next two quarters. Yet, manufacturers who replied to this survey were slightly less upbeat than they were three months ago, when 91.2 percent of respondents were positive in their outlook. Sales, exports and hiring expectations over the next 12 months also decelerated slightly, even as they remain improved from the paces seen a year ago. Read More
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that Wisconsin created the most net new manufacturing workers in October, hiring 5,400 additional employees for the month. Other states with significant increases in manufacturing employment in October included Pennsylvania (up 2,700), Indiana (up 2,500), Minnesota (up 2,300), Oregon (up 2,200) and South Carolina (up 2,100). Looking over the past 12 months, the five states with the greatest manufacturing employment gains were Indiana (up 24,100), Texas (up 14,900), Ohio (up 13,700), Wisconsin (up 12,100) and Minnesota (up 10,500). Read More