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U.S. Manufacturers Shed a Record Number of Jobs in April. Here's Where the Losses Were.

Posted by IndustrySelect on Friday, May 8, 2020


New data released today by the Bureau of Labor statistics shows the U.S. lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in Arpil, the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. This comes as no surprise as states effectively shut down their economies to wait out the worse of the crisis and businesses across the U.S. temporarily closed.

Manufacturing was among the hardest-hit sectors. One year ago, a 6,000-job loss in manufacturing was considered a disappointing jobs report, after seeing record gains in years 2017-2019. In those golden years, the sector added a total of 571,000 jobs. Fast forward to April 2020 and U.S. manufacturing companies posted a staggering loss of 1.3 million jobs, wiping out two years of gains in one month.

Notably, many of these lost jobs were directly attributable to stay-at-home orders issued across the U.S., effectively shuttering businesses nationwide, and will likely return once the restrictions are lifted. Already, states like Ohio and Minnesota have reopened their manufacturing sector, and others like Michigan and New York will soon be following suit. We may begin to see those jobs bounce back in the next several months.

Some sectors may take more time to recover than others, depending on how hard they were hit. Today, we’re going to break down the job losses in manufacturing in April by sector.

April 2020 Manufacturing Job Losses by Sector

Manufacturing currently accounts for 11,488,000 jobs, or roughly 9% of total U.S. non-farm employment. In April, all sectors within the manufacturing category lost jobs except for one.

Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing employment edged up by 800 jobs in April, possibly a reflection of greater demand for equipment as Americans hunkered down and set up home offices.

Durable Goods

Durable goods manufacturing, which represents 7,124,000 of the sector’s jobs, was heavily-impacted, losing a total of 914,000 jobs.

Within the durable goods category, transportation equipment posted the sharpest loss, down a staggering 421,000 jobs as plants were idled. This was followed closely by motor vehicles and parts, down 381,000 jobs.

Fabricated metals shed a whopping 108,7000 jobs and machinery 79,000 jobs.

By contrast, durable goods sectors least affected included computer and electronic products, with communications equipment down 900 jobs, semiconductors down 2,500 jobs and electronic instruments down 6,700.

Non-Durable Goods

Non-durable goods manufacturing fell by 416,000, according to the Labor Department. Losses in this sector were led by food processing, down 86,300, possibly due to the rash of closures in meatpacking plants hit hard by COVID-19 infections.

This was followed by 79,000 jobs lost in printing and related support activities and 65,000 jobs lost in plastics and rubber products. Apparel rounded out the most-impacted list, with a loss of 42,000 jobs in an already struggling sector.

Not surprisingly, paper products were among the least impacted non-durable goods industries, with jobs in that sector down 8,200. Demand for paper products like toilet tissue, paper towels and cardboard have skyrocketed during the outbreak.


April’s job report represented staggering losses for manufacturing and the U.S. economy at large.

Durable goods industries such as transportation equipment and machinery suffered the most, while computer and electronic products posted the least number of losses.

Non-durable goods manufacturing fell across the board and was most severe in food processing and plastics and rubber.

Looking ahead, as more states reopen their manufacturing sectors, many of these industries will likely start adding jobs again.

Now, more than ever, U.S. manufacturers are in need of new products and services as they get their plants back up and running. If you are looking to reach out to decision makers in the manufacturing world, see how an IndustrySelect subscription can put you in touch with the nation's manufacturers. Click here to try out our free demo.



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