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Manufacturing Loses 2,000 Jobs, Paced by Vehicle Job Cuts

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

U.S. manufacturing lost 2,000 jobs in September, paced by job cuts among makers of vehicles and parts.

Durable goods posted a decrease of 4,000 jobs while non-durable goods only partially offset that, gaining 2,000, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the U.S. Bureau of  Labor Statistics.

Within durable goods, motor vehicles and parts led the job losers, with a cut of 4,100 jobs. The overall transportation equipment category saw a decline of 1,700 jobs.

U.S. light-vehicle sales slid 12 percent in September and are down 1.6 percent so far this year, according to Automotive News. The industry posted annual sales of 17 million or more for four consecutive years. Analysts have forecast that deliveries would slow from that pace in 2019.

What’s more, there have been layoffs at suppliers to General Motors Co. A strike by the United Auto Workers union is in its third week.  The two sides have been unable to reach an agreement for a new four-year labor contract.

Other industries cutting jobs included fabricated metal products, down 3,000, and machinery, down 2,700. Job gainers included electronic instruments, up 1,500 jobs, and wood products, up 1,200.

Manufacturing totaled 12.85 million jobs last month, compared with an adjusted 12.852 million in August and 12.733 million in September 2018.

For the first nine months, manufacturing has added 41,000 jobs, according to bureau data. That compares with a gain of 188,000 jobs for the same period in 2018.

The average manufacturing workweek remained at 40.5 hours while overtime stayed at 3.2 hours, the bureau said in a statement.

The manufacturing economy has been slowing during 2019. The Institute for Supply Management said this week that is manufacturing index, known as the PMI, reached its lowest level in 10 years. The PMI has indicated manufacturing has contracted for two straight months following a 35-month streak of expansion.

Jobless Rate Falls

Total non-farm employment rose by 136,000 jobs last month, the bureau said. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast an increase of 145,000. The unemployment rate fell to a near 50-year low of 3.5 percent from 3.7 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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