The first employment report of 2024 from the Department of Labor shows that employment in manufacturing is increasing to new post-Recession heights. Preliminary data released February 2 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows manufacturing employment increased by 23,000 — a slight gain that nevertheless put the number of manufacturing workers at 12,979,000, the most employed in the U.S. since November 2008.
In the rest of the economy, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7% as employment rose by 353,000 overall.
In monthly manufacturing jobs growth, the smaller nondurable goods sector gained substantially more workers than the durable goods sector. Nondurable goods companies increased their payroll by a net 19,000 workers in January, compared to just 4,000 net workers in durable goods. Chemical manufacturing saw a strong month for new blood as it picked up just under 7,000 new employees, while printing and related support companies collectively hired 5,000.
As usual, the largest durable-goods sector also saw the most dramatic change, as transportation-equipment manufacturing companies added 5,600 employees to their payrolls, about 3,000 of whom went to work in motor vehicles and parts production. Gains there were offset by losses of roughly 3,000 workers in furniture and 2,600 workers in electrical equipment manufacturing, respectively.
On an annual basis, the manufacturing economy added a net 23,000 jobs between January 2023 and January 2024, an increase of 0.2%. Durable goods employment rose by 0.8%, and nondurable goods employment fell by 0.6%. Over the same period, the number of people employed at nonfarm companies rose by 1.9%, and the number employed by private companies rose by 1.7%.