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Manufacturing Jobs Drop in January

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing employment declined by 10,000 jobs last month and results were even worse in durable goods industries, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said today.

The durable goods sector lost 17,000 jobs, according to a breakdown by industry issued by the bureau. Non-durable goods gained 7,000 jobs.

The overall manufacturing job loss snapped a streak of eight months of growth. During that period, factories reopened and geared up output. Plants had shut down in early 2020 to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Within durable goods, job losers included non-metallic mineral products (down 6,400 jobs), motor vehicles and parts (down 5,300), and fabricated metal products (down 4,100).

The motor vehicles and parts sector has been a steady jobs performer. Demand for pickups and SUVs has helped buoy the auto industry.

Durable goods job gainers included semiconductors and electronic components (up 1,800 jobs) and miscellaneous manufacturing (up 1,300).

Manufacturing totaled 12.217 million last month, down from an adjusted 12.227 million in December. The bureau said in a statement that manufacturing is up 803,000 jobs since April, the month with the largest COVID-19 impact. However, manufacturing employment still is down 582,000 jobs from February 2020, just before COVID-19-related shutdowns.

January wasn’t a good month for jobs generally. Non-farm employment only rose by 49,000 jobs. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent last month from 6.7 percent. Some of the drop was from people who stopped looking for work and not being counted as unemployed.

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