Reality Check Scant Job Growth in September

Reality Check: Scant Job Growth in September

Oct. 3, 2014
The monthly jobs report issued this morning by the Labor Department shows that the U.S. manufacturing sector posted a disappointing net gain of 4,000 jobs during September.

Throwing a bit of a damper on today's Manufacturing Day proceedings, the monthly jobs report issued this morning by the Labor Department shows that the U.S. manufacturing sector posted a disappointing net gain of 4,000 jobs during September.

Continuing a recent trend, September's job growth in the durable goods sectors outperformed that of the nondurable goods sectors. Durables posted a net total of 7,000 jobs gained, nondurables a net 3,000 jobs lost.

And continuing another recent trend, within durables, the Motor Vehicles & Parts subsector continued to lead the way with 3,300 net jobs gained.

  Aug '14 Sept '14 Change
Manufacturing - Total 12,150.0 12,154.0 4.0
Durable Goods - Total 7,689.0 7,696.0 7.0
Wood Products 370.7 370.8 0.1
Nonmetallic Mineral Products 388.3 389.1 0.8
Primary Metals 400.4 401.5 1.1
Fabricated Metal Products 1,457.0 1,459.0 2.0
Machinery 1,130.5 1,130.9 0.4
Computer & Electronic Products 1,056.7 1,056.3 -0.4
       ►Computer & Peripheral Equipment 169.0 168.7 -0.3
       ►Communications Equipment 96.9 96.8 -0.1
       ►Semiconductors & Electronic Components 366.2 365.6 -0.6
       ►Electronic Instruments 385.8 386.5 0.7
Electrical Equipment & Appliances 374.5 373.4 -1.1
Transportation Equipment 1,560.7 1,561.9 1.2
       ►Motor Vehicles & Parts 870.6 873.9 3.3
Furniture & Related Products 370.9 372.3 1.4
Miscellaneous Durable Goods 579.3 580.8 1.5
Nondurable Goods - Total 4,461.0 4,458.0 -3.0
Food 1,471.4 1,471.8 0.4
Textile Mills 116.7 116.6 -0.1
Textile Product Mills 112.8 112.2 -0.6
Apparel 131.4 131.5 0.1
Paper & Paper Products 372.9 371.5 -1.4
Printing & Related Support Activities 439.4 439.7 0.3
Petroleum & Coal Products 114.0 113.6 -0.4
Chemicals 804.7 803.8 -0.9
Plastics & Rubber Products 662.4 661.6 -0.8
Miscellaneous Nondurable Goods 235.5 235.2 -0.3
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics      

Temporary Slowdown

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said the last two months' data confirm that job gains in the manufacturing sector have stalled "at least temporarily."

"Numbers like these are a blow to the president's goal of 1 million new manufacturing jobs in his second term," Paul said. "A large and persistent trade deficit and a paucity of investment in infrastructure are two obstacles that stand in the way of actual progress."

Chad Moutray, chief economist with the National Association of Manufacturers, agreed that the monthly job figures are disappointing, noting that manufacturing employment growth was "well below expectations for both August and September."

Nonetheless, Moutray said, U.S. manufacturers remain optimistic about demand and production: "Recent data on hiring plans would seem to indicate stronger job growth that what these figures show. Hopefully, we will begin to see healthier employment gains in the coming months."

Alan Tonelson, research fellow with the U.S. Business and Industry Council, said the monthly report indicates that the manufacturing sector has "cemented its status as a major job-creation laggard during the current recovery."

Tonelson said that since 2010, when manufacturing employment bottomed out, "the sector has created only 701,000 of the 9.78 million nonfarm jobs created during this period—7.15%.  And whereas total non-farm employment now exceeds its pre-recession level by 1.08 million, manufacturing has regained only 30.57% of the 2.293 million jobs it lost during the downturn."

About the Author

Pete Fehrenbach | Pete Fehrenbach, Associate Editor

Focus:  Workforce  |  Chemical & Energy Industries  |  IW Manufacturing Hall of Fame

Follow Pete on Twitter: @PFehrenbachIW

Associate editor Pete Fehrenbach covers strategies and best practices in manufacturing workforce, delivering information about compensation strategies, education and training, employee engagement and retention, and teamwork. He writes a blog about workforce issue called Team Play.

Pete also provides news and analysis about successful companies in the chemical and energy industries, including oil and gas, renewable and alternative.

In addition, Pete coordinates the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

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