The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 427,000 manufacturing job openings in January, up strongly from 374,000 in December. That was the best number since September’s reading (445,000), which was the strongest since January 2001. In fact, the job postings rate in January was only the fifth time since the indicator started in December 2000 that openings have exceeded 400,000. In the latest figures, both durable (up from 239,000 to 284,000) and nondurable (up from 135,000 to 143,000) goods manufacturers posted more jobs in January, and the pace of job openings has continued to trend higher overall. Monthly job openings in the sector averaged 365,458 in 2017, up from 326,750 in 2016. Moving forward, we would anticipate renewed strength for job openings in the coming months.
Meanwhile, net hiring among manufacturers has also been relatively solid, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report. The manufacturing sector hired 360,000 workers in January, up from 348,000 workers in December. This was just shy of the 364,000 employees hired in August, which was the strongest rate since November 2007. Hiring among durable goods firms (up from 201,000 to 217,000) accelerated in January, but eased slightly for nondurable goods businesses (down from 147,000 to 143,000). At the same time, total separations—including layoffs, quits and retirements—rose from 337,000 to 352,000, a level not seen since May 2007. As a result, net hiring (or hires minus separations) was 8,000 in January but has averaged a rather healthy 14,500 over the past 12 months.
Turning to the larger economy, job openings for nonfarm payroll businesses soared from 5,667,000 in December to 6,312,000 in January, a new all-time high. In the latest data, job openings increased in every major sector except for leisure and hospitality, which was just marginally lower. Meanwhile, net hiring among nonfarm businesses continued to be decent, at 210,000 and 174,000 in November and December, respectively.