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Manufacturing Jobs Rise While Durable Goods Mixed

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

U.S. manufacturing added 29,000 jobs in August but durable goods only rose by 2,000 amid a mixed employment picture.

Within durable goods, industries with job gains were mostly offset by those with job losses, according to a breakdown by sector issued today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Motorized vehicle and parts, which bolstered manufacturing employment in recent months, was one of the notable job losers, down 5,300.

Employment in the sector had increased as the auto industry restarted operations beginning in May. That followed plant shutdowns that occurred in March because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). To resume production, factories implemented new safety procedures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Durable goods job gainers included fabricated metal products, up 5,900 jobs, furniture (up 5,700), and miscellaneous manufacturing (up 2,000).

The overall transportation equipment sector lost 8,400 jobs. Besides motor vehicles, the category also includes aerospace. Aircraft makers have been slammed as COVID-19 slashed demand for air travel. Airlines have canceled orders for planes. Forecasters don’t expect the slump to end quickly.

Manufacturing totaled 12.132 million last month on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was an improvement from an adjusted 12.103 million in July.

Last month’s manufacturing job figure is below the 12.848 million in August 2019. Also, manufacturing employment, despite gains in recent months, is still 720,000 below February, before COVID-19 spurred a massive economic downturn.

Total non-farm employment rose last month by 1.4 million, the bureau said in a statement. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent in August from 10.2 percent the month before.

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