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Manufacturing Jobs Slip 10,000 in January as Overall Employment Rises

Feb. 5, 2021
Significant gains in chemical manufacturing employment stemmed worse manufacturing losses.

The U.S. manufacturing sector shed about 10,000 jobs in January 2021, according to the latest figures from the Department of Labor. Nonfarm employment in the U.S. added 49,000 jobs as the employment rate fell to 6.3%. Durable goods manufacturing as a whole lost 17,000 jobs, but significant gains in nondurable chemical manufacturing pushed the figure of total manufacturing jobs lost significantly.

Of the 17,000 jobs lost in durable goods manufacturing, 6,400 jobs were in nonmetallic mineral products, 5,300 in motor vehicles and parts, and 4,300 in fabricated metal products. In addition to those fields, primary metals, machinery, electrical equipment and appliances, transportation equipment, and furniture related manufacturing all also saw fewer jobs than in December.

Semiconductors and electronic components led durable manufacturing in jobs gained, with 1,800, and wood products, computer and electronic products, and miscellaneous durable goods also saw gains.

Nondurable goods manufacturing employed 7,000 more people in January than it had in December, driven almost entirely by gains in chemical manufacturing: Chemical manufacturers employed 10,500 more people in January than they had the month before.

Food manufacturing and textile product mills also added nondurable manufacturing jobs (2,200 and 400, respectively), but employment in all other nondurable sectors declined.

Excluding employment gains in chemical manufacturing from the results, nondurable goods manufacturing as a whole would have employed roughly 7,000 fewer people than in December, and the manufacturing sector’s January job losses would be closer to 20,000 jobs lost than 10,000.

The manufacturing sector has so far recovered 803,000 jobs since April, but employment is still 582,000 lower than it was in February, just before the Bureau of Labor Statistics began recording the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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