“The national unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent in December, its lowest level since December 2000.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing job openings decreased from 435,000 in both August and September—both at the highest point since January 2001—to 402,000 in October. Overall, the data suggest manufacturers are posting new jobs at a very strong rate, exceeding 400,000 for the fifth consecutive month. Indeed, as the manufacturing outlook has improved, job openings have turned higher—another sign the labor market has tightened significantly. One year ago, for instance, there were 314,000 job openings in the sector. The underlying job openings data for durable and nondurable goods decreased, but nondurable goods experienced a steeper decline (down from 173,000 to 147,000) than durable goods (down from 262,000 to 255,000).
Meanwhile, manufacturing hiring remained positive in October. The sector hired 345,000 workers in October, up from 329,000 in September and not far from August’s level of 359,000, which was nearly a 10-year high. Hiring increased for both durable (up from 189,000 to 201,000) and nondurable (up from 140,000 to 143,000) goods firms. At the same time, total separations—including layoffs, quits and retirements—inched down from 315,000 to 308,000. As a result, net hiring (or hires minus separations) rose from 14,000 in September to 37,000 in October. This implies average net hiring of 17,500 workers per month year to date, which is a relatively robust growth rate.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing job openings dipped from 435,000 in August—its highest level since January 2001—to 425,000 in September. Overall, though, this data suggests that manufacturers are posting new jobs at a very strong rate, with an improved economic outlook boosting employment growth. To put the current number in perspective, job openings in the sector were 326,000 one year ago. The underlying job openings data in September were mixed. Durable goods firms added posted more jobs in September, up from 248,000 to 255,000, a level not seen since April 2006. In contrast, job openings were lower for nondurable goods businesses for the second straight month, down from 187,000 to 170,000. This could reflect some negative impacts from recent hurricanes, likely making the decrease temporary. Read More
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.