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Manufacturing Job Growth Resumes in September

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing job expansion resumed in September after pausing in August.

The sector added 18,000 jobs last month, with 17,000 of the gain taking place in durable goods, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bureau reported a preliminary manufacturing job loss of 3,000 jobs for August, the first such deficit in a year. For most of 2018, manufacturing posted strong job gains. As in September, durable goods has led the way for manufacturing job increases.

The main manufacturing job gainer in September was fabricated metal products, up 3,700 jobs. Also adding jobs were non-metallic mineral products (up 2,700) and furniture (up 1,900). Transportation equipment overall had a gain of 1,200 jobs. That came despite a loss of 400 jobs for motorized vehicles and parts.

Manufacturing totaled 12.747 million in September on a seasonally adjusted basis. That compares with an adjusted 17.279 million for August. The September figure also was higher than the 12.469 million in September 2017. Of the year-over-year gain, four-fifths occurred in durable goods, the bureau said in a statement.

Jobless Rate Falls

Total non-farm employment increased by 134,000 jobs last month, according to the bureau statement. That was less than the 185,000 job gain forecast by economists surveyed by Reuters.

Nevertheless, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7% in September, a 49-year low. It declined from 3.9% 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 increased automation and technology in factories.

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