Manufacturing employment declined by 3,000 in March according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, its first decrease since September. Manufacturing employment has been soft over much of the past year, with just a few exceptions. The sector has added 77,000 net new workers over the past 12 months.
Over that time frame, there were 1.9 million nonfarm payroll workers hired, implying that manufacturers created just 4 percent of all of the net new jobs since March 2012. That really illustrates how uncertainty and weak global demand have impacted a sector that had before last year been providing outsized growth for output and employment. Since the end of the recession, manufacturers have hired an additional 510,000 workers, or roughly 9 percent of all new jobs.
Looking specifically at the manufacturing employment numbers for March, the durable goods sectors added 4,000 additional workers, with nondurable goods industries shedding 7,000. The largest monthly gains were seen in the fabricated metal products (up 3,400), machinery (up 3,000), primary metals (up 2,000), and plastics and rubber products (up 1,200) sectors. In contrast, some of the sectors with declining employment for the month included apparel (down 2,500), food products (down 1,600), wood products (down 1,300), and textile product mills (down 1,000).
The data on hours worked and compensation in the manufacturing sector were largely unchanged in March. The average weekly earnings for the industry edged marginally lower from $987.74 to $986.14. On the positive side, weekly earnings remain higher than the $978.84 average observed in January. In terms of average weekly hours, they also were slightly off, down from 40.9 to 40.8. This was somewhat counteracted by an increase in the average overtime hours of 3.4 in March, up from 3.3 in February. (continue reading…)