U.S. manufacturing employment declined in February for the first time in two years, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department issued March 10th.
According to the latest data, U.S. manufacturers shed 4,000 net jobs in February 2023, marking the first time the sector has registered a net employment decline since March 2021.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs overall in January, and the unemployment rate rose to 3.6%.
Additionally, the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey finds the number of job openings in manufacturing has increased, with the Labor Department recording 791,000 unfilled positions for the sector in January (January JOLTS data is reported in March). This is compared to 730,000 open positions recorded for December and 914,000 unfilled positions reported one year ago.
Unfilled positions in manufacturing and in the U.S. economy at large have remained elevated since the pandemic. As an example, open positions in the industrial sector totaled 432,000 in March 2019—a little less than half of what they are today.
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Despite last month’s losses, there were some notable manufacturing industries that added jobs. In this post, we’ll explore the most recent manufacturing numbers from the Labor Department, providing gains and losses by specific subsector.
Non-durable goods manufacturing accounted for all of the sector’s losses in February, losing 4,000 jobs altogether, while durable goods manufacturing posted no change in employment.
Computer and electronic product manufacturing led job gains in February, adding 2,800 positions.
This was followed by chemical manufacturing, which added 2,500. Other sectors that added jobs included navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments (+1,500); nonmetallic minerals manufacturing (+1,500); transportation equipment (+1,300) and petroleum and coal products (+1,000).
U.S. manufacturing jobs losses in February 2023 were sharpest in plastics and rubber manufacturing, down 4,700 jobs, followed by furniture manufacturing, which shed 2,800 jobs.
Other manufacturing industries losing jobs included textile mills (-1,700 jobs), apparel manufacturing (-1,300 jobs), paper mills (-1,100); and fabricated metals (-1,100).
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