Serhii Shchehlov/Dreamstime
Employee In Helmet Operating Metal Process Machinery © Serhii Shchehlov Dreamstime

May Manufacturing Employment Gains, Doesn’t Make Up April Losses

June 4, 2021
Manufacturers hired 23,000 more employees last month, driven mainly by automotive gains.

The latest employment situation report released by the Department of Labor shows that manufacturing job growth in May reversed but did not make up for the losses it sustained in April. The manufacturing sector added 23,000 new hires last month after losing 32,000 workers the month before. The nonfarm economy as a whole added 559,000 new hires, a faster pace than April, when it added

In both months, motor vehicles and parts hiring was a major driver of employment changes. Automotive companies shed 31,000 employees in April, then hired 24,800 more in May. Durable goods industries hired a net 18,000 employees while nondurable goods companies hired net 5,000.

Total manufacturing employment remains 509,000 lower than it was in February 2020, before the first effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

Notably, despite gains of more than 30,000 in automotive employment, the transportation equipment sector as a whole only gained a net 9,000 jobs, suggesting harsh losses in other segments of the industry not listed in the Census Bureau’s survey, possibly connected to aerospace manufacturing.

Fabricated metal products, electrical and electronics industries all reported notable gains of 3.5 thousand, 2.8 thousand, and 2.8 thousand new employees each. The worst-performing listed durable goods sector was machinery, which lost 4,700 employees last month.

Nondurable goods employment growth was sluggish but stable, and faster than the month before. The net 5,000 jobs figure set in May beat the 1,000 jobs it lost in April. That was driven mainly by growth in miscellaneous nondurable goods and food manufacturing, which gained 4,100 and 2,300 new employees, respectively. Growth was offset there by losses in paper and paper products, which cut 2,100 employees, and chemicals, which lost 1,100. Most other nondurable goods sectors hired or lost fewer than 1,000 employees.

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