Two employees working on a praline production line in a food production factory.

Jobs Growth in Manufacturing Slows on Auto Loss

Dec. 3, 2021
Significant gains in miscellaneous durable goods and food production were offset by cuts in the automotive and machinery industries.

Manufacturing jobs growth slowed in November as employment in durable and nondurable goods production rose by 31,000, about 17,000 fewer jobs than the 48,000 industrial jobs created in October. While most other sectors performed well, a sharp loss in motor vehicle and parts employment offset significant gains in miscellaneous durable goods and food production.

The overall economy grew at a similarly slowing rate: The nonfarm private U.S. economy hired 210,000 people in November, and the unemployment rate fell 0.4 points to 4.2%.

Nondurable goods companies, which only employ about a third of the people durable goods production does, actually hired more people on net than durable goods, 16,000 to durable goods’ 15,000. Food manufacturing made up almost half of nondurable goods’ gains, hiring an estimated 7,400 people, while paper and plastics companies hired 2,200 and 1,600, respectively.

The largest industry group for new manufacturing jobs in November was miscellaneous durable goods, a category the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses for difficult-to-classify production including athletic goods like tennis racquets and golf balls. Miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing added 10,000 new hires in total last month, but this was offset almost perfectly by motor vehicles and parts manufacturers, who let 10,000 people go last month after hiring 18,500 in November.

Fabricated metal goods companies hired about 8,000 more people, and electrical equipment and appliances, nonmetallic mineral products, and wood products all also added more than a thousand new employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that “a major strike” brought machinery employment down by an estimated 6,000 people. That’s likely a reference to the monthlong Deere & Co. strike, which affected about 10,000 agricultural equipment workers represented by the United Auto Workers.

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