The Bureau of Labor Statistics said total manufacturing hires in July was the highest since December 2007, the first official month of the Great Recession. The sector hired 341,000 workers in July, up from 324,000 in June. Both durable (up from 190,000 to 196,000) and nondurable (up from 134,000 to 145,000) goods firms added employees in July, with the level of durable goods hiring at a 9½-year high. At the same time, total separations—including layoffs, quits and retirements—also increased, up from 315,000 to 321,000. The level of separations was the highest since June 2009, which coincidently was the last official month of the recession. As a result, net hiring (or hires minus separations) was 20,000 in July, up from 9,000 in June, its strongest monthly pace since December 2014.
Meanwhile, manufacturing job openings pulled back from June’s 16½-year high of 419,000 to 390,000 in July. The July level was still the second-highest reading of the past 12 months, reflecting an upward trend in overall postings for the sector. Openings in the sector have averaged 379,000 year-to-date in 2017, an improvement from the average of 341,750 seen for all of 2016. Nonetheless, job openings were lower for both durable (down from 232,000 to 211,000) and nondurable (down from 187,000 to 179,000) goods businesses in July. 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.
Turning to the larger economy, nonfarm payroll businesses recorded a new all-time high for job openings, up from 6,116,000 in June to 6,170,000 in July. It was only the second time in the survey’s 17-year history that job openings have exceeded 6 million. In the latest data, the largest monthly increases in postings were in the construction, information, leisure and hospitality, mining and logging and retail trade segments. Moreover, net hiring in the nonfarm sector increased from 123,000 in June to 169,000 in July, with the total nonfarm hires up to 5,501,000 in July, its highest level since March 2001.
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