Manufacturing Job Openings Bounced Back in June; Nonfarm Postings at New All-Time High

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing job openings bounced back from 350,000 in May—its slowest pace so far this year—to 388,000 in June. That was the best number since March’s reading of 404,000, which was a 16-year high. In June, both durable (up from 201,000 to 214,000) and nondurable (up from 149,000 to 174,000) goods firms had more job postings. Openings in the sector have averaged 372,000 year to date in 2017, an improvement from the average of 342,000 for all of 2016. We would expect stronger job openings data moving forward, especially given recent improvements in the economic outlook for the sector, and this should lead to better hiring figures.

For now, however, net hiring remained soft but positive. Manufacturers hired 322,000 workers in June, down slightly from 329,000 in May. Hiring has trended upward over the past 12 months, with the sector adding 280,000 workers in June 2016. In the latest figures, durable goods firms increased hiring, up from 183,000 to 188,000, its highest level since January 2008. Yet, hiring fell from 146,000 to 135,000 for nondurable goods businesses in June. Meanwhile, total separations—including layoffs, quits and retirements—also ticked lower, down from 325,000 to 321,000. As a result, net hiring (or hires minus separations) increased by 1,000 in June, slowing from a gain of 4,000 in May.

Turning to the larger economy, nonfarm payroll businesses recorded a new all-time high for job openings, up from 5,702,000 in May to 6,163,000 in June. It was the first time in the survey’s 17-year history that job openings have exceeded 6 million, with increased postings in every major industry except for the information sector. Nonetheless, net hiring in the nonfarm sector eased from 214,000 in May to 132,000 in June.

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray is chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Director of the Center for Manufacturing Research for The Manufacturing Institute, where he serves as the NAM’s economic forecaster and spokesperson on economic issues. He frequently comments on current economic conditions for manufacturers through professional presentations and media interviews. He has appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox Business and Fox News, among other news outlets.
Chad Moutray

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