© Media Whalestock/Dreamstime
Employees In Front Of Metal Crucible Glowing Dark Factory Floor © Media Whalestock Dreamstime

Jobs Report: Manufacturing Still 647,000 Shy of Pre-COVID Employment

Oct. 2, 2020
Manufacturers hired 66,000 people in September, mostly in durable goods manufacturing.

The U.S. added 661,000 nonfarm jobs in September, according to the latest information released by the Department of Labor. The unemployment rate dropped half a percentage point to 7.9% as the count of unemployed workers fell 1 million to 12.6 million. The employment situation report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics October 2, shows an overall decrease in hiring from August, which saw the economy add 1.4 million jobs.

In manufacturing, though, overall hiring improved from last month: the Bureau reported that the manufacturing industry added 66,000 jobs in September—more than twice the 29,000 new jobs added in August and an improvement on 41,000 in July.

Roughly two-thirds of the returning manufacturing jobs were in durable goods, especially in the motor vehicles and parts sector and machinery: Each added about 14,000 new jobs.

Nondurable goods manufacturing added 20,000 new jobs, with growth there led by food manufacturing and printing companies (which added 5,000 and 4,700 new jobs, respectively.)

The number of jobs that have returned, in manufacturing and in the economy at large, is still dwarfed by the number of jobs lost amid the coronavirus pandemic. Using the data released for September, the manufacturing sector is still 647,000 jobs shy of where it was in February before losing 46,000 jobs in March and 1.3 million in April.

May and June both saw six-digit gains of 240,000 and 357,000 new manufacturing jobs, respectively. Industrial employment fell to 5-digit growth in July, where it currently remains despite September's gains. All told, the overall economy and the manufacturing sector are only about halfway to replenishing all of the jobs lost during the first months of the pandemic.

President of the American Alliance for Manufacturing, Scott Paul, said in a statement that “all is not well in the manufacturing economy.” To support his point, he referenced a report from the Department of Commerce showing the U.S. trade deficit in goods at a record high of $82.9 billion.

“Overall, job growth is slowing again. While employers are adding back some jobs, half of the workers laid off during the pandemic haven’t been rehired,” said Paul.

Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition, took a similarly sobering view of the report, and noted its unequal effects. In a statement, Van Kleunen wrote: “The marginal reductions in unemployment have been seen by mostly white workers—the unemployment rate remains in double digits for African Americans and Latinos compared to 7% for white workers. There are fewer workers participating in the labor market today than just last month.”

Popular Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!