Manufacturers added 14,000 additional workers in February according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is roughly equal to the average monthly gain of 13,000 experienced in 2012, with the first half of the year clearly being stronger than the later months. Even with this progress, we can’t help but hope to see better numbers with the manufacturing sector producing on all cylinders.
In his keynote address last month at the Detroit Economic Club NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons laid out a “20/20 Vision” for faster growth between now and 2020. This set a goal of having industrial production grow by 4.5 percent annually, manufacturers creating 20,000 jobs each month on average, and real GDP increasing at least by 3.5 percent annually. If we could achieve that growth imagine the possibilities.
February’s jobs numbers represent a good start, but there is still much more work to be done. Policymakers need to continue to focus on making the business environment as pro-growth as possible. Our manufacturers need policies to better compete globally. If that occurs, achieving an average job growth of 20,000 each month should be an easily obtainable goal.
Looking specifically at this month’s manufacturing numbers, durable goods employment rose by 6,000, with 8,000 additional workers in nondurable goods industries. Hiring growth was mostly mixed, despite the net increase in February. The largest gains were seen among fabricated metal products (up 6,400), wood products (up 4,000), food manufacturing (up 3,400), chemicals (up 2,600), transportation equipment (up 2,300), and plastics and rubber products (up 1,900). These were counteracted by declines in primary metals (down 2,000), machinery (down 1,800), electrical equipment and appliances (down 1,800), petroleum and coal products (down 1,500), and computer and electronic products (down 1,200). (continue reading…)