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Manufacturing Nets Nominal Job Gains While Overall Economy Adds 467,000

Feb. 4, 2022
Employment gains in manufacturing slowed to just over 10,000 new jobs in January, according to preliminary Department of Labor data.

Despite fears that the Omicron COVID-19 variant could cause a significant downturn in new January employment, the Department of Labor reported that the private nonfarm economy added 467,000 jobs, about 40,000 fewer than revised employment figures for December.

At the same time, jobs growth in industry slowed to a crawl: Preliminary labor data for January indicated that the manufacturing industry added only 13,000 new jobs last month, less than half the amount it gained in December.

The government figures are rosier than employment predictions produced earlier in the week by ADP, a private payroll company that puts out its own monthly report. The ADP predicted that the U.S. would lose 21,000 manufacturing and 301,000 overall jobs in January.

In its February 4 report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised up its employment figures for December 2021. According to the Bureau, private nonfarm companies hired 510,000 people in December while manufacturers hired 32,000—both substantial improvements over the previously-published figures of 199,000 and 26,000 new jobs, respectively.

Jobs growth in durable goods production was hamstrung by significant cuts at transportation equipment manufacturers. Companies making durable goods added a net 8,000 new jobs, hampered significantly by the 9,500-job loss in transportation equipment. About half of the losses in that sector were in motor vehicles and parts production. The losses in transportation equipment offset gains in fabricated metal products, which added 5,000 new jobs, machinery, and nonmetallic mineral products.

Nondurable goods production saw mainly meager gains and losses across the board. The largest group in nondurable goods, food production, added 5,200 jobs, making up most of the total 5,000 net nondurable production jobs gained.

Average hourly earnings in manufacturing continued to grow, but remained beneath average hourly earnings overall, which grew at a faster rate. Average manufacturing wages rose by 19 cents in January to $30.56 an hour, while hourly wages among all private companies rose 23 cents to $31.63 an hour. Wages in manufacturing were above most private wages as recently as November 2021, when the mean hourly rate was $30.24 in manufacturing and $30.23 overall.

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