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Which Manufacturing Industries Are Adding the Most Jobs?

Posted by IndustrySelect on Friday, September 3, 2021


New data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds the U.S. manufacturing sector added jobs in August, while job openings in the sector remain at historic levels.

In August, U.S. manufacturers added 37,000 positions. Meanwhile, employment in the U.S. economy overall increased by a modest 235,000 jobs and the unemployment rate eased slightly to 5.2%. The labor participation rate remained steady at 61.7, 1.6% than pre-pandemic levels, and the lowest rate the nation has seen since 1977.

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So what manufacturing sectors are struggling the most to add workers? And which are gaining jobs? Today, we’re exploring the most recent manufacturing numbers from the Labor Department, providing the gains and losses by specific subsector. But first, let’s take a look at manufacturing job openings.

Manufacturing Job Openings Hit All-Time High

The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover, released in July, finds that the number of job openings in the sector now stands at 942,000 as of August 2021. To put this in perspective, job openings in manufacturing in May of 2020 stood at 323,000. Meanwhile, job openings in the U.S. overall have hit a record high of ten million.

It has been boom time for U.S. manufacturers, with demand soaring. Yet, a backlog of orders has led to longer lead times, while a shortage of materials and high prices are impacting production. Compounding matters is a scarcity of skilled workers – an area of concern for manufacturers even prior to the pandemic and contributing to historic. The JOLTS report suggests manufacturing would be hiring at a much quicker pace--if there were more workers available.

The Manufacturing Sectors That Added the Most Jobs in August 2021

In August, both durable and non-durable goods manufacturing added jobs, with durable goods adding 31,000 jobs and non-durable goods adding another 6,000.

Durable goods manufacturing accounted for most of the industry’s job gains, and the auto sector overwhelmingly accounted for manufacturing durable goods gains in August, adding 24,000 jobs. Following the auto sector, job gains fell off sharply, with fabricated metal products adding 6,600 jobs, plastics and rubber products, adding 3,100 jobs, food manufacturing adding 1,600; computer and electronic products adding 1,400; electronic instruments gaining 1,300 and communications equipment 1,100.

The Manufacturing Industries That Shed the Most Jobs in August 2021

Industries that shed the most jobs included electrical equipment and appliances, which fell by 3,100 jobs, while miscellaneous durable goods industries fell by 1,800 jobs.

Most other industries saw little to no change, with hiring at a standstill for textile mills, apparel, petroleum and coal products, semiconductors, computer and peripheral products, furniture, and nonmetallic mineral products.

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