Today’s strong jobs report shows manufacturers’ record optimism this year is continuing to translate into real job creation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturers added 24,000 workers in October, improving from a hurricane-related gain of just 6,000 in September. Note that the August and September data were revised upwardly in the latest figures, adding another 10,000 in total to what was estimated previously in those months. Through the first 10 months of 2017, manufacturing employment has risen by 13,800 on average per month—a definite improvement from the loss of 16,000 workers in 2016 as a whole and a sign that firms have stepped up their hiring as a result of a stronger economic outlook and increased demand and production activity. Indeed, since the end of the Great Recession, manufacturing employment has risen by 1,028,000 workers, with 12.48 million employees in the sector in this report.
We have also seen some upward pressure on wages. In this release, average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers rose from $1,090.18 in September to $1,097.57 in October, with that figure up 2.1 percent over the past 12 months. In addition, the average number of hours worked per week in the manufacturing sector edged up from 40.8 to 41.0, with average overtime hours shifting from 3.4 to 3.5 in this release.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturers lost 1,000 workers in September, with the overall jobs numbers negatively impacts by damaging hurricanes in the month. In addition, the July and August data were also revised lower, subtracting 32,000 from prior manufacturing job growth estimates. Despite the disappointing figures in September, the reduced hiring is likely a temporary phenomenon, with employment expectations continuing to be very strong overall. Indeed, manufacturers have accelerated the pace of hiring since December, adding 122,000 workers on net over that 10-month time frame. That is a definite improvement following the loss of 16,000 workers seen in 2016 as a whole and a sign that firms have stepped up their hiring as a result of a stronger economic outlook and increased demand and production activity. Indeed, since the end of the Great Recession, manufacturing employment has risen by nearly one million workers, with 12.45 million employees in the sector in this report.
On this Manufacturing Day, it is important to remember that the ability to attract and retain a quality workforce is in a virtual tie for first place as one of the top challenges for manufacturers, according to the latest NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey. As the labor market has tightened, workforce development challenges have become more pressing for business leaders in the sector. In addition, we have also seen some upward pressure on wages. In this release, average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers rose from $1,080.99 in August to $1,085.88 in September, with that figure up 2.0 percent over the past 12 months. Read More
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturers added 16,000 net new workers in July, extending the gain of 12,000 workers June. (June was estimated originally to be a gain of just 1,000 workers, and the May data were also revised from a decline of 2,000 to 0.) The July increase in manufacturing was the fastest since February, and the sector has now increased employment in seven of the past eight months. Over that eight-month span (since November), manufacturers have averaged 12,500 new jobs per month—definite improvement from the loss of 16,000 workers on net in 2016. In July, there were 12,425,000 manufacturing workers. At the same time, average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers rose from $1,086.30 in June to $1,092.03 in July, up 2.8 percent over the past 12 months from $1,062.02.
In another sign that manufacturing jobs are on the rise, Toyota announced today that it will build a $1.6 billion U.S. assembly plant to develop electronic vehicle technologies. The plant opening in 2021 will produce up to 300,000 vehicles per year and employ 4,000 manufacturing workers. Read More
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in May was disappointing. The U.S. economy added just 138,000 net new workers in May, below the consensus estimate of 185,000 and even further from the 253,000 estimate provided by ADP yesterday. In addition, there were downward revisions to the March and April data, subtracting a total of 66,000 from those months in job gains. There were fewer Americans employed overall, down from 153.2 million in April to 152.9, a three-month low. As a result, the participation rate dropped from 62.9 percent to 62.7 percent, its lowest level since June 2016. With that in mind, we saw the unemployment rate fall once again, down from 4.4 percent to 4.3 percent, a 10-year low. Likewise, the so-called “real” unemployment rate declined from 8.6 percent to 8.4 percent, a level not seen since November 2007.
Meanwhile, manufacturers were hoping to have a sixth straight month of job gains, much as we saw in the ADP data. Instead, manufacturing employment was off by 1,000 workers in May. On the positive side, revisions to March and April data added another 3,000 employees to what was previously estimated. Overall, manufacturing employment has averaged 12,167 per month since December, which stands in sharp contrast to the loss of 16,000 workers on net seen in 2016 as a whole. As such, even with the slight decline in May employment for the sector, the general trend for manufacturing employment over the past six months has been favorable. We have seen higher expectations for job growth of late in light of a stronger outlook for demand and production. Read More
ADP reported that manufacturing employment rose by 8,000 in May, increasing for the sixth straight month. From December through May, the sector added 114,000 net new workers. This was yet another sign that we have turned a corner in the labor market, with employers accelerating their hiring in light of stronger activity and sentiment. In contrast, hiring in 2016 was flat for the year as a whole. We are hopeful the trend of stronger job growth is one that continues in the coming months.
Meanwhile, total private employment increased by 253,000 in May, well above the consensus estimate of around 185,000 and a nice jump from the 174,000 gain in April. Year to date, nonfarm private payrolls have risen by 239,696 per month on average, which is significantly higher than the 180,892 workers added each month in 2016 as a whole. Read More
Guest blog by Heidi Alderman, 2017 STEP Ahead Chairwoman and Senior Vice President, Intermediates North America, BASF Corporation
There is a place for us in manufacturing.
I have worked in the industry for more than 30 years and have seen an increasing number of women join the ranks. However, we still need more!
Manufacturers have difficulty recruiting women because many believe the jobs are physical, repetitive and boring—but none of this is true. Today’s manufacturing jobs are highly technical, well-paying and offer a variety of career options with bright futures.
Manufacturing allows women to use creativity to solve problems, contribute to society and connect with others. Women in manufacturing are given the chance to solve the world’s problems, something that not many can say of their jobs. My work gives me pride in knowing the difference BASF makes by creating chemistry that solves the world’s problems.
Growing up, I saw manufacturing become the backbone of the United States. I studied engineering in college because I excelled at math and science in high school. I didn’t quite know what engineering was, but as it turns out, I made the right choice.
For me, engineering isn’t just a job; it’s a mindset for solving problems, whether they are technical, commercial or life-related. I’ve had roles in research, manufacturing, purchasing, marketing and business management, and the work has always been challenging, exciting and fun. Science, technology, engineering and production (STEP) career fields require the unique skills that women bring to the workforce—a focus not only on achieving results, but also compassion for people, the desire to positively impact culture and the ability to motivate employees.
Although women in manufacturing have come a long way, I know we must work together to enhance the industry image and communicate the new opportunities in this age of change. Whether you’re interested in engineering, design or even marketing, there is a place for YOU in manufacturing.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing employment rose by 17,000 in December, its first monthly increase since July. That is hopefully a sign of better hiring numbers moving forward, which would be consistent with some of the improved sentiment and activity data of late. Nonetheless, it does not reverse the disappointing trend seen for 2016 as a whole, which saw manufacturing hiring down by 45,000 workers on net for the sector. Indeed, for most of last year, manufacturing leaders were quite cautious in their hiring in light of disappointing demand and production data and persistent economic uncertainties and headwinds. Read More
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.