The current state of the manufacturing economy continues to be a give-and-take between signs that the sector is beginning to improve versus ongoing challenges related to global headwinds. The latest job numbers represent both of those views. On the one hand, manufacturers added 4,000 workers in April, a positive gain following two months of declines which was led by strength in the motor vehicle segment. Yet, hiring remained soft overall, with 23,000 fewer workers on net through the first four months of 2016. Indeed, manufacturing leaders remain cautious in their outlook, and as such, we continue to see weaker-than-desired job growth. Hopefully, that will improve moving forward, particularly if the manufacturing economy truly is beginning to stabilize.
Looking more closely at the April manufacturing job data, durable goods manufacturers added 6,000 workers on net, with nondurable goods employment down by 2,000. Sectors with the largest monthly gains were motor vehicles and parts (up 6,100), food manufacturing (up 1,700), miscellaneous nondurable goods manufacturing (up 1,400), fabricated metal products (up 1,300) and electrical equipment and appliances (up 800). In contrast, plastics and rubber products (down 1,600), machinery (down 1,200), primary metals (down 1,100) and nonmetallic mineral products (down 800) were among the sectors experiencing declining employment for the month. In all, 12 of the 19 major manufacturing sectors had reduced employment in April.
ShopFloor is the blog of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).