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Census Report: Manufacturing Adds 15,000 Jobs in June

July 5, 2021
Average hourly wages in durable goods increased by 4.9%, year-over-year, as employers woo talent.

Manufacturing employment crept up slowly last month. On July 2, the Census Bureau’s latest Employment Situation report showed that goods-manufacturing businesses hired 15,000 more people in June after hiring 39,000 in May.

That’s despite significant losses in motor vehicle and nondurable goods production. The overall nonfarm economy added an estimated 850,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate, currently 5.9, changed little.

Durable goods manufacturing added a net 18,000 jobs, though the largest change in employment was a loss: Motor vehicles and parts manufacturing lost 12,300 employees last month, a little more than half of the 22,800 people hired there in May. The significant loss was offset by substantial gains in different durable goods industries, including furniture manufacturing (which hired 8,500), fabricated metal products (5,700) and primary metals (3,100).

Nondurable goods manufacturing as a sector lost a net 3,000 jobs mainly thanks to jobs lost in food manufacturing, plastics and rubber products. Food manufacturers dropped 4,100 employees and the plastics and rubber industry lost 2,900. Although growth in miscellaneous nondurable goods manufacturing perfectly offset plastics and rubber losses, with an estimated 2,900 jobs gained, losses of more than a thousand jobs in printing industries and petroleum products pushed nondurable goods employment into the red.

An industry-wide shortage of available labor appears to be exerting upwards pressure on average wages, especially in manufacturing. Compared to this time last year, average hourly earnings in manufacturing rose 4.9%, with average hourly take in durable manufacturing increasing 5.7% and 3.8% in nondurable manufacturing.

That’s a notably faster increase in hourly earnings than the economy at large. Average hourly earnings in all private, nonfarm companies rose 3.6% year-over-year from June 2020 to June 2021. The average U.S. manufacturing worker currently made $23.75 an hour last month, still somewhat less than the average private worker, who made $26.68.

The rise in average hourly wages reflects the urgency manufacturers currently face with hiring talent. The latest report on manufacturing business from the Institute for Supply Management found labor shortages an increasing challenge for respondent industrial executives, and lowered its manufacturing employment index to 49.9% from growth territory.

Despite a streak of employment growth as the manufacturing economy opened up again, the number of people employed in manufacturing in the U.S. is still down 480,000 from where it was in February 2020, the Census Bureau reported.

About the Author

Ryan Secard | Associate Editor


Focus: Workforce and labor issues; machining and foundry management

Associate Editor Ryan Secard covers topics relevant to the manufacturing workforce, including recruitment, safety, labor organizations, and the skills gap. Ryan has written IndustryWeek's Salary Survey annually since 2021 and has coordinated its Talent Advisory Board since September 2023.

Ryan got started at IndustryWeek in August 2019 as an editorial intern and was hired as a news editor in 2020 before his 2023 promotion to associate editor, talent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Wooster.

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