The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing job openings hit a new all-time high in July. Manufacturers posted 506,000 job openings in July, up from 475,000 in June. That was the highest reading since the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) was introduced in December 2000. In the latest figures, there were more job openings in the nondurable goods sector, up from 182,000 to 214,000, a new record high, but postings for durable goods manufacturers pulled back from 293,000 to 292,000. Overall, these data reflect an ever-tightening labor market, with manufacturing business leaders citing the inability to attract and retain workers being the top challenge cited in the most recent NAM outlook survey.
Along those lines, net hiring has also been robust for manufacturers. There were 393,000 hires in the sector in July, up from 360,000 in June and the strongest reading since February 2007. Hiring accelerated for both durable (up from 207,000 to 236,000) and nondurable (up from 153,000 to 158,000) goods manufacturers in July. At the same time, total separations—including layoffs, quits and retirements—increased from 337,000 to 346,000. As a result, net hiring (or hires minus separations) jumped from 23,000 in June to a very robust 47,000 in July.
Meanwhile, job openings for nonfarm payroll businesses also soared to a new all-time high, up from 6,822,000 in June to 6,939,000 in July. In addition, there are more job openings in U.S. economy than the number of people looking for work (6,280,000 in July, and 6,234,000 in August). More than anything, that reality helps to explain why workforce concerns are top-of-mind for so many manufacturers (and other industries) right now.