Manufacturing Job Openings Eased from 16-Year High but Exceeded 400,000 for Fifth Straight Month

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.

Turning to the larger economy, job openings for nonfarm payroll businesses fell from the all-time high of 6,177,000 in September to 5,996,000 in October. It was the first reading below 6 million since May but still a strong figure. In the latest data, construction and leisure and hospitality saw the largest monthly increases in postings. Meanwhile, net hiring among nonfarm businesses rebounded from hurricane-related softness in September of 96,000 to 374,000 in October.

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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