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Manufacturing Loses 36,000 Jobs on GM Strike

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

U.S. manufacturing lost 36,000 jobs in October, dragged down by a strike at General Motors Co.

Makers of motor vehicles and parts cut 41,600 jobs during the month, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The United Auto Workers union walked off the job at GM in mid-September. The strike lasted 40 days. Striking workers are considered unemployed. The strikers received payments from a union strike fund that were far less than their GM wages.

What’s more, production shutdowns at the automaker stemming from the walkout caused GM suppliers to layoff workers. UAW members at GM ratified a new four-year labor contract last week, ending the strike.

The UAW already has reached a tentative labor agreement with Ford Motor Co. If ratified, the union will then move to finish negotiations with FCA US LLC and conclude this cycle of auto labor talks.

The overall durable goods category saw a reduction of 41,000 jobs. Other industries losing jobs included miscellaneous manufacturing, down 3,000 jobs, and primary metals, down 2,900.

Job gainers in durable goods included non-metallic mineral products, up 2,000 jobs, and wood products, up 1,400.

Manufacturing totaled 12.811 million jobs last month, down from an adjusted 12.847 million in September. The October figure was more than the 12.762 million in October 2018.

Jobless Rate

Total non-farm employment increased by 128,000 jobs last month, the bureau said in a statement. The U.S. unemployment rate edged up to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent 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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