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Manufacturing Outperforms Economy in December

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing outperformed the overall economy in December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said today.

Manufacturers added 38,000 jobs last month, with 25,000 coming in durable goods, according to a breakdown by sector issued by the bureau.

Total non-farm employment declined by 140,000 jobs, the bureau said in a statement. It was the first such decline since April when the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the economy.

The U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the bureau said.

Within manufacturing, key job gainers included motor vehicles and parts, up 6,700; non-metallic mineral products, up 6,100; and miscellaneous manufacturing, up 3,800. 

While most durable goods categories posted job increases, primary metals lost 2,100 jobs.

Manufacturing employment totaled 12.309 million jobs last month, up from an adjusted 12.271 million in November. However, manufacturing job levels are still 543,000 below February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit the economy.

Manufacturing recovered relatively faster than other sectors from the COVID-19. In the first half of 2020, factories shut down to slow the spread of the virus. Plants then reopened with new safety procedures.

The North American auto industry resumed operations in May. The sector has been helped by strong demand for pickups and SUVs. Meanwhile, aerospace is in a slump because COVID-19 has reduced demand for air travel.

COVID-19 cases are spiking in the U.S. The virus represents a major source of economic uncertainty as cities and states cope with surges in cases.


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