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Manufacturing Rebounds With 225,000 Job Gain

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

U.S. manufacturing added 225,000 jobs in May as some workers returned to work after earlier plant closings caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The manufacturing increase was part of an overall job gain running counter to forecasts for additional job losses.

Makers of durable goods added 119,000 jobs while non-durable goods sectors added 106,000, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Major job gainers included motorized vehicles and parts, up 27,700; fabricated metal products, up 24,800; and machinery, up 22,600.

In May, automakers with North American plants restarted factories. COVID-19 earlier had prompted factory shutdowns as companies coped with how to deal with the coronavirus.

The rebound follows an adjusted job loss of 1.32 million manufacturing jobs in April. COVID-19 largely shut down the U.S. economy as states issued stay at home orders to stem the spread of the virus.

Such orders are now being lifted, with specifics varying by state. COVID-19 has no cure and there have been more than 108,000 confirmed deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University.

Manufacturers are looking to redeploy workers, including having them work further apart and increased cleaning.

May did see job losses in some manufacturing industries. Job losers included electrical equipment and appliances, down 15,300, and primary metals, down 9,400.

Manufacturing totaled 11.7 million jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was better than April’s 11.482 million but far below the 12.829 million in May 2019.

Non-farm employment increased by 2.5 million in May, the bureau said in a statement. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a loss of 8 million.

The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 13.3 percent last month, down from 14.7 percent the month before.

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