Manufacturing added 11,000 jobs in March, with all of the net gain taking place in durable goods.
Fabricated metal products led the increase, with a gain of 5500 jobs, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Also contributing to the increase was the motorized vehicles and parts category, with a gain of 3000 jobs. Miscellaneous manufacturing posted an increase of 2000 jobs.
The largest job loser among makers of durable goods was the machinery category, down 2600 jobs.
Manufacturing totaled 12.392 million jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month. That’s up from an adjusted 12.381 million in February and 12.355 million in March 2016.
Manufacturing showed signs of recovery in 2017’s first quarter.
The Institute for Supply Management (Tempe, AZ) said earlier this week that its PMI, which measures economic activity in manufacturing, was 57.2% in March. That eased a bit from the February PMI of 57.7%.
Still, March still marked the seventh consecutive month of economic expansion for the manufacturing index. A PMI above 50% indicates manufacturing expansion, below that level indicates contraction. The PMI has averaged 53.2% the past 12 months.
The index is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives in 18 industries.
What’s more, durable goods outperformed the overall US economy in job activity last month.
Total non-farm employment advanced by 98,000 jobs last month, the bureau said in a statement. Economists surveyed by Reuters forecast a gain of 180,000 jobs. The US unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in March from 4.7% the month before.
The March total job increase marked a slowdown from the year’s first two months, when job gains exceeded 200,000 each month.
Manufacturing jobs peaked in June 1979 (19.6 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, 19.7 million unadjusted). That sank to a low of 11.45 million adjusted and 11.34 million unadjusted in February 2010 following a severe recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis.
Since that low, new manufacturing jobs have been created requiring increased skills because of more automation and technology in factories.