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Manufacturing Employment Surges After End of GM Strike

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing employment surged by 54,000 jobs in November following the end of a 40-day strike at General Motors Co., the U.S. Labor Department said.

Durable goods industries boosted employment by 44,000 jobs while non-durable goods added another 10,000, according to a breakdown by sector issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Motor vehicles and parts added 41,300 jobs, the bureau said. It was the manufacturing category that added the most jobs by far.

Workers represented by the United Auto Workers union at GM walked off the job in mid-September. The strike didn’t end until late October after the automaker and UAW reached a new four-year labor agreement.. The walkout also caused layoffs at some GM suppliers.

Since then, union members ratified a new labor pact at Ford Motor Co. The UAW also reached an accord with FCA US LLC. Once that agreement is ratified, this year's round of auto industry negotiations will conclude.

Other durable goods industries posted small gains, including furniture with 2,200 additional jobs. Miscellaneous manufacturing had a loss of 500 jobs.

Jobless Rate Falls

Manufacturing employment totaled a seasonally adjusted 12.865 million in November, up from an adjusted 12.811 million in October. The November figure also is up from the year-earlier 12.789 million.

Total non-farm employment increased by 266,000 jobs last month, the bureau said in a statement. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent from 3.6 percent in October.  

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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