Manufacturing Job Openings Pulled Back in August but Remained Elevated

Oct. 12, 2016
Manufacturing job openings pulled back in August but remained elevated relative to net hiring, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that manufacturing job openings pulled back in August but remained elevated relative to net hiring. Postings in the sector fell from 379,000 in July to 337,000 in August. Openings have drifted lower since achieving an all-time high of 397,000 observed in April.

Through the first eight months of 2016, job openings have averaged 352,000 per month, up from 311,000 for 2015 as a whole. As such, we have continued to see relatively healthy gains in manufacturing job openings, despite some easing in this report, which gives us optimism for faster hiring growth moving forward.

In the August data, both durable (down from 223,000 to 194,000) and nondurable (down from 156,000 to 143,000) goods firms had slower job opening rates, but the July numbers also appear to be a bit of an outlier based on recent trends.

Meanwhile, net hiring has been positive for three consecutive months. This represents an improvement from net declines from February through May. Total hiring edged up from 276,000 to 277,000 in this release, but total separations – which include quits, layoffs and retirements – ticked up from 263,000 to 269,000. Hiring increased for nondurable goods firms (up from 113,000 to 124,000), but this was mostly offset by reduced hiring among durable goods manufacturers (down from 163,000 to 153,000). Overall, net hiring (or hiring minus separations) equaled 8,000 in August, off slightly from 13,000 in July. Hopefully, growth in job openings translate to more hiring moving forward, particularly when demand and production activity in the sector accelerate.

In the larger economy, nonfarm job openings declined from 5,831,000 in July, an all-time high, to 5,443,000 in August. Job postings were mostly lower across-the-board, with the exception of increased openings in the month for finance and insurance and leisure and hospitality. Beyond openings, net hiring in the overall economy were strong but somewhat softer in this report, down from 267,000 in July to 256,000 in August.

About the Author

Chad Moutray | Chief Economist, National Association of Manufacturers

Chad Moutray is chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, 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 and has appeared on various news outlets. In addition, he is the director of the Center for Manufacturing Research at The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, where he leads efforts to produce thought leadership, data and analysis of relevance to business leaders in the sector.

Prior to joining the NAM, Mr. Moutray was the chief economist and director of economic research for the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2002 to 2010. In that role, he was responsible for researching the importance of entrepreneurship to the U.S. economy and highlighting various issues of importance to small business owners, policymakers and academics. In addition to discussing economic and policy trends, his personal research focused on the importance of educational attainment to both self-employment and economic growth.

Prior to working at the SBA, Mr. Moutray was the dean of the School of Business Administration at Robert Morris College in Chicago (now part of Roosevelt University). Under his leadership, the business school had rapid growth, both adding new programs and new campuses. He began the development of an M.B.A. program that began accepting students after his departure and created a business institute for students to work with local businesses on classroom projects and internships.

Mr. Moutray is the vice chair of the Conference of Business Economists, and he is a former board member of the National Association for Business Economics, where he is the co-chair of the Manufacturing Roundtable. He is also the former president and chairman of the National Economists Club, the local NABE chapter for Washington, D.C.

He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Eastern Illinois University. He is a Certified Business Economist™, where he was part of the initial graduating class in 2015.

In 2014, he received the Outstanding Graduate Alumni Award from EIU, and in 2015, he accepted the Alumnus Achievement Award from Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois, where he earned his associate degree in business administration. He serves on the external economics advisory board for the SIUC’s School of Analytics, Finance and Economics.

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