While some industrial indicators may suggest that the U.S. manufacturing sector is undergoing a tough time right now, the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Friday, suggests that manufacturers are certainly not letting a few bad months dampen their enthusiasm for investing in talent for the future.
According to the report, U.S. manufacturing companies added a substantial 29,000 new jobs in January this year. That’s the fourth consecutive increase over the last few months and the steepest monthly jobs rise for over a year.
To put this into some kind of perspective, this 29,000 boost in January compares to a net gain of only 33,000 for the whole of 2015.
But perhaps most importantly, that latest increase has pushed the total number of workers in U.S. manufacturing to 12.4 million – a seven-year high!
Not since the dark days of the financial recession of the late 2000s have manufacturing payrolls been so healthy.
So what’s going on? While the high dollar and a slowdown in exports are often cited as adding to manufacturing’s woes last year, and the U.S. Purchasing Managers’ Index for December hit a 38-month low, according to industry researchers Market Economics, it seems that recent increases in domestic demand and a rise in new orders are helping to push hiring levels upwards in some key sectors.
Of the 79 manufacturing sectors covered in the new U.S. Labor study, for example, 64 per cent said they were adding workers, particularly in food processing, auto production, chemicals, furnishings and fabricated metals.
As Markit’s PMI report noted earlier this month: “Production volumes were reported to have increased at a solid pace in January, with the rate of expansion accelerating from December’s recent low. Reports from survey respondents cited improved spending patterns, in particular from domestic clients. Reflecting this, latest data pointed to a rebound in new business growth to its fastest for three months.”