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Manufacturing Loses 3,000 Jobs in August

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing lost 3,000 jobs in August, the first decrease in sector employment in almost a year.

Durable goods posted a loss of 4,000 jobs while non-durable goods, such as food and textiles, had a collective gain of 1,000, according to a breakdown by sector issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Manufacturing last reported a monthly job loss in September 2017. For most of the past two years, manufacturing has posted gains, some months outperforming the overall economy.

The primary manufacturing job loser was motorized vehicle and parts, down 4,900 jobs. That dragged the overall transportation equipment category to a 4,300-job deficit. Others sectors cutting employment included furniture (down 1,300) and wood products (down 600).

Manufacturing job gainers were paced by fabricated metal products, up 4,100 jobs.

Manufacturing employment totaled 12.717 million in August on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was down from an adjusted 12.72 million in July. However, the August figure was still 254,000 jobs higher than the 12.463 million in August 2017. More than 75% of the manufacturing job gain the past year came from durable goods, the bureau said in a statement.

Unemployment Rate Steady

Total non-farm employment rose by 201,000 jobs last month, the bureau said. That was better than the median forecast of 190,000 jobs of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.9%.

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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