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Factory Hiring Picks Up in September, While Thousands of Manufacturing Jobs Go Unfilled

Posted by IndustrySelect on Tuesday, October 13, 2020


New data released by the Bureau of Labor statistics shows the U.S. added 661,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate declined to 7.9%, according to a report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is roughly half of the 1.4 million jobs the nation added in August.

The U.S. manufacturing sector added jobs in September as well and hiring picked up in the sector compared to August. The Department of Labor reports the sector added 66,000 jobs in September, accelerating from the 29,000 positions added in August.

Notably, however, the U.S. industrial sector is currently 647,000 jobs short of pre-pandemic levels.

This is in keeping with the Institute for Supply Management’s report on manufacturing activity for the month of September, which found that although hiring has lagged behind other growth metrics in manufacturing, its employment index gained some ground in September, growing by 3.5 percentage points and now nearing expansion territory.

September 2020 Manufacturing Job Gains by Sector

Manufacturing currently accounts for 12,205,000 jobs, or roughly 9% of total U.S. non-farm employment. Two-thirds of the September’s manufacturing employment gains were led by the durable goods category – the reverse of last month in which the non-durable goods category added the most jobs.

This is largely due to a rebound transportation equipment sector, which had taken a step back last month.

The transportation equipment industry added 15,300 jobs, while motor vehicles and parts added 14,300 jobs. The sector has been adding jobs at a robust pace since hitting historic lows at the height of the pandemic. However, the transportation/motor vehicles and parts sector is 193,000 jobs short of pre-pandemic levels.

The machinery sector also posted a notable increase in jobs, adding 13,800 positions in September.

Wood products (+6,200); fabricated metal products (+4,200); and electronic instruments (+2,700) were among the other durable goods industries that added jobs.

As expected in light of the pandemic, most industrial subsectors report fewer jobs compared to a year ago. But interestingly, electronic instruments and computer/peripheral equipment account for more jobs than they did one year ago, up 0.4% and 2.4%, respectively.

On the non-durable side, food manufacturing (+5,000) printing & related support activities (+4,700) and textiles (+2,400) also posted gains over last month.

September 2020 Manufacturing Job Losses by Sector

There were a handful of sectors that saw notable job losses in September, though many saw little to no change. Of those sectors posting job losses, primary metals suffered the most, shedding 3,400 jobs; while the chemical sector was a the second-most affected, down by 2,000 jobs.

More Job Openings in Manufacturing Than Economy Overall

The Department of Labor’s most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released October 6th found that job openings in the U.S. manufacturing sector trended up over the month, even though job openings in the U.S. economy overall trended down.

The most recent report, which shows job levels for the month of August, finds job openings in manufacturing now stand at 460,000, up nearly 7% from July’s 430,000 job openings in manufacturing. Additionally, not only have job openings in the sector risen, but openings are at their highest level since July 2019.

This is compared to the U.S. economy as a whole, in which job openings fell to 6.6 million in August 2020 from 7 million in July 2020. Additionally, the year-over-year look provides an even more striking contrast, with job openings 685,000 less than they were in August 2019.

Although it remains to be seen if the JOLTS survey numbers will reveal a continued upward trend in manufacturing job openings, it remains certain that many industrial companies are on the hunt for workers.

Staffing and workforce development agencies are currently at the ready to help more as more manufacturers seek to fill open positions and may find their services are more in demand.

Temporary help services, in fact, added more than 8,000 jobs, according to the most recent labor report. You can read more about 2021 forecasts for the staffing industry here.

If you’re looking to help manufacturers with their staffing and workforce needs, an IndustrySelect subscription can help you find new customers in the industrial world.

Powered by MNI’s hand-verified industrial information, IndustrySelect provides instant access to 500,000 industrial business profiles, including one million executives, including decision-makers in Human Resources, Health & Safety, Research & Development and more.

To get a hands-on look at how an IndustrySelect subscription can help you reach new customers, visit our website and try out a free demo or see what other sales, marketing and business professionals have to say.


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