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Inside the Labor Report: Manufacturers Add Jobs Across Wider Span of Industries

Posted by IndustrySelect on Friday, November 6, 2020

Man works on a machine in a factory wearing a mask

The U.S. added 638,000 jobs in October, according to a report issued Friday, November 6th by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is roughly in line with the 661,000 jobs added in September, though in October the unemployment rate fell a full percentage point, down to 6.7% from last month’s 7.9%

The U.S. manufacturing sector added 38,000 jobs in October -- roughly half the number of jobs added in September. Manufacturers hired at a must brisker pace in the late spring and early summer as industrial firms resumed production, but the sector is still 621,000 jobs shy of pre-pandemic levels.

The latest from the Labor Department is in keeping with the Institute for Supply Management’s employment reading for the month of October, which pointed to expansion in hiring. The ISM’s much-watched employment index found hiring in manufacturing moved into expansion territory for the first time since the Pandemic.

October 2020 Manufacturing Job Gains & Losses by Sector

Manufacturing currently accounts for 12,205,000 jobs, or roughly 9% of total U.S. non-farm employment. October’s employment gains were largely seen in the durable goods category, with gains more evenly distributed across multiple sectors. Let’s take a look.

For the past several months, employment gains in manufacturing were largely led by the transportation equipment sector, with motor vehicles and parts adding 125,000 jobs in June; 39,000 jobs in July and15,000 in September (August posted a slight loss).

However, in October, gains were seen across a wider span of industries, some of which saw lukewarm gains or posted losses during the recovery period.

Fabricated metals posted the largest gain in manufacturing employment, adding 7,200 jobs in October. Employment in primary metals rose by 6,000 jobs and wood products added 4,400. Meanwhile, machinery added 3,900 jobs and computer & electronic products rose by 3,500.

The transportation equipment industry, by contrast, lost 2,400 jobs – among the few durable goods categories to lose jobs. Furniture/fixtures also lost jobs, down 1,200, while electrical equipment and supplies shed 900 jobs.

On the non-durable goods side, food manufacturing overwhelmingly added the most jobs in October, up by 6,200 jobs. Plastic and rubber manufacturing employment rose by 3,500 positions, while printing/publishing added 2,400 and petroleum/coal gained 2,000. Losses in non-durable goods were relatively minimal, with a 1,500 job loss for paper products and 1,000 jobs shed in textiles.

Job Openings in Manufacturing Persist

Meanwhile, job openings in manufacturing continue to persist, which we discuss in greater detail in this post.

The Department of Labor’s most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released October 6 found there are currently 460,000 unfilled positions in manufacturing. In fact, the last JOLTS survey, found job openings in manufacturing trended up, even as job openings in the U.S. economy overall trended down.

Prior to the pandemic, manufacturers were contending with a tight labor market and a persistent skills gap. COVID-related workforce issues have now thrown another challenge into the mix. Many companies are now looking for outside help to staff the factory floor, while others are looking to invest in more automation.

Employment services, in fact, added 120,000 jobs in October, while temporary help services added 108,000 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 or automation 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.


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