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Manufacturing Adds 18,000 Jobs in May

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing employment rose by 18,000 jobs in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said today.

Most of the gain, 11,000 jobs, was in durable goods, according to a breakdown by industry issued by the bureau.

The increase was paced by fabricated metal products, up 7,100 jobs. Other job gainers included wood products, up 3,800 jobs, non-metallic mineral products up 1,900, primary metals, up 1,700, and miscellaneous manufacturing, up 1,100.

The major drag on durable goods was transportation equipment with a decline of 7,900 jobs. That included a decrease of 3,500 jobs in motor vehicles and parts.

The auto industry has experienced temporary plant shutdowns stemming from a continuing shortage of computer chips. That shortage has caused cuts in production and tight supplies of vehicles on dealer lots.

Manufacturing employment totaled 12.768 million on a seasonally adjusted basis in May. That was up from an adjusted 12.75 million in April and 12.268 million in May 2021.

The sector remains about 17,000 jobs, or 0.1 percent, under February 2020 levels, the bureau said in a statement. That was the last month before the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the U.S. economy. The pandemic caused plant shutdowns in 2020 before factories reopened with new safety procedures.

Total non-farm employment rose by 390,000 jobs last month, the bureau said. That was better than the average forecast by economists surveyed by Reuters for a 325,000 gain. The U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6 percent.

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