The answer won't be known until Aug. 4, when the U.S. Labor Department reports July employment data. In June, U.S. manufacturing added 15,000 jobs, following a decline of 8,000 in May.
Meanwhile, the latest Labor Department numbers on initial claims for unemployment insurance, released July 27, don't provide a clear indication of whether or not the manufacturing sector is adding jobs this month.
On the positive side, Michigan reported nearly 15,000 fewer claims for jobless benefits during the week ending July 22 than it had the week before. Fewer layoffs in the auto industry, which has been going through its annual retooling process, were the stated reason. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and Kansas also reported fewer claims in manufacturing last week.
However, claims increased significantly in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, particularly in the textile, apparel and wood-products industries.
For the overall U.S. economy, including manufacturing, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 298,000 last week, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 305,000, the Labor Department said. The total was substantially below the 315,000 claims that economists generally expected.
The department's four-week moving average of first-time jobless claims also declined last week, falling to 312,750, some 4,250 less than the previous week's revised average of 317,000.