ID 157455356 © Roman Kosolapov | Dreamstime.com
Men Grinding Metal Sparks Factory Workers Id 157455356 © Roman Kosolapov Dreamstime
Men Grinding Metal Sparks Factory Workers Id 157455356 © Roman Kosolapov Dreamstime
Men Grinding Metal Sparks Factory Workers Id 157455356 © Roman Kosolapov Dreamstime
Men Grinding Metal Sparks Factory Workers Id 157455356 © Roman Kosolapov Dreamstime
Men Grinding Metal Sparks Factory Workers Id 157455356 © Roman Kosolapov Dreamstime

18,000 Factory Workers—At Least—Lost Their Jobs in March

April 3, 2020
Jobs data collected by the Labor Department does not yet include the last two weeks of March, which were cataclysmic for unemployment. Here's what we do know.

The manufacturing sector lost 18,000 jobs in March as total nonfarm employment fell by 701,000, according to data released by the Department of Labor April 3. The unemployment rate moved to 4.4%, a 0.9-point rise from February.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, the surveys used to generate the employment report collected data for the week of March 8 through March 14. Later that month, for the week of March 20, initial unemployment insurance claims jumped by 3 million. The next week, containing the last days of March, they rose to 6 million claims.

The unemployment insurance claims reports included qualitative comments from states on what sectors were hit hardest and what was driving the layoffs. The nonfarm employment report released April 3, however, includes quantitative data on what jobs in what sectors were lost at the beginning of the layoff wave.

Of the 18,000 jobs in manufacturing lost, the single most-effected industry was the fabricated metal products sector, which lost 4,400 jobs. 11,000 jobs were lost in nondurable goods manufacturing. Chief losses in that category included printing and related support activities, which lost 3,500 jobs; chemicals, which lost 3,000; textile product mills; and food manufacturing.

The leisure and hospitality sector accounted for more than half of nonfarm U.S. jobs lost in March, reporting 459,000 fewer workers by the end of the surveyed period. The coronavirus outbreak has hammered demand for hotels and travel, and industry suppliers—including manufacturers of nonmetallic durable goods and aircraft—have reported a troubling amount of cancelled orders.

In a statement, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul urged the government to act—again. “The relief package passed by Congress may allow some businesses and families to tread water for a while,” he said, “but much more needs to be done.”

The $2.2 trillion stimulus bill signed into law in March provided expanded unemployment benefits, billions of dollars in grants for small businesses and billions more for loans to large corporations. That act was the third bill passed by Congress to address the COVID-19 outbreak. It is unlikely to be the last.

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