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August Auto Employment Jump Drives Manufacturing Jobs Growth

Sept. 3, 2021
Motor vehicle and parts production hired 24,000 new people in August, standing out from modest growth elsewhere in manufacturing.

The latest jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the U.S. manufacturing sector added 37,000 jobs in August, the majority of which were in motor vehicles and parts production. Auto and truck manufacturers hired 24,000 people, forming the lion’s share of the 31,000 jobs created in durable manufacturing and dwarfing nondurable goods’ 6,000 new August jobs.

No other manufacturing sector came close to the kind of hiring last month. Fabricated metal products, also categorized under durable goods production, hired 6,600 more people. Plastics and rubber product manufacturing, the fastest-growing nondurable goods sector, hired about 3,100.

No other sector in manufacturing saw gains of more than 2,000 new hires, but losses were also small. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 3,100 jobs last month, more than any other manufacturing group.

Wages continued to creep upwards. Average hourly manufacturing wages rose by 10 cents in August compared to a 13 cent increase in July for manufacturing overall.

The latest report also showed the number of manufacturing jobs gained in July was much higher than previously reported. Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said manufacturing added 27,000 jobs in July, but new preliminary data for the month of July now shows manufacturing added 52,000.

Taking the July and August gains into account, manufacturing is still 378,000 people shy of the number of people it employed in February 2020.

The overall economy, meanwhile, added 235,000 new jobs, and the employment rate declined by 0.2 points to 5.2% as manufacturing joined professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, and private educations as sectors with significant job growth. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh noted the employment rate is now the lowest it has been since the COVID-19 pandemic started, but noted “we have work to do” to keep mutations of the virus from hurting the economy further.

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