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Manufacturing Jobs Rebound, Led by Motor Vehicles

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing employment rebounded in February, with motor vehicles and parts leading the way.

Manufacturers added 15,000 jobs last month, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing jobs had been slipping in recent months.

The motor vehicle and parts category led the way, adding 6,800 jobs. That was the bulk of a gain of 7,800 jobs for transportation equipment.

Analysts have forecast that deliveries of cars and light trucks will soften in 2020 following five straight years of 17 million or more. The industry also is dealing with a shift away from cars and toward trucks and SUVs.

Other industries with job gains included non-metallic mineral products (up 3,700 jobs), fabricated metal products (up 1,800) and miscellaneous manufacturing (up 1,300).

Industries with job cuts included machinery, down 2,300 jobs, and furniture (down 1,600). Durable goods overall had a gain of 11,000 jobs.

Manufacturing totaled 12.861 million jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in February. That was up from an adjusted 12.846 million in January and slightly higher than the 12.83 million jobs in February 2019.

Total non-farm employment increased by 273,000 jobs in February, the department said in a statement. That was better than the forecast of 175,000 jobs by economists surveyed by Reuters. The unemployment rate declined to 3.5 percent, from 3.6 percent in January.

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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