US manufacturing added 28,000 jobs in February, with non-durable goods leading the surge.
Durable goods boosted employment by 10,000, with non-durable goods accounting for the rest, according to a breakdown by industry issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The food manufacturing category reported the biggest gain, with 8800 new jobs. Among durable goods, machinery posted an increase of 6800 jobs, with non-metallic mineral products adding 2400 and miscellaneous manufacturing 1800.
A notable job loser was transportation equipment, down 6000. With that category, motorized vehicle and parts cut 3500 jobs.
For more than a year, the auto industry has been a strong job performer, helped by continuing demand for light trucks. US light-vehicle sales have been forecast to soften in 2017 compared with a record 17.55 million last year.
Manufacturing totaled 12.382 million on a seasonally adjusted basis in February, up from an adjusted 12.354 million in January. The February figure is also above the 12.375 million for February 2016.
Manufacturing is a major economic emphasis of President Donald Trump, who has promised to change US trade policies to boost jobs in the sector.
Total non-farm employment rose by 235,000 last month, the bureau said in a statement. That was better than the median forecast of a 200,000 increase in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
The US unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in February from 4.8% the month before.
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.
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