Manufacturing Industry Jobs Update: December 2016

At, we are big champions of American manufacturing and reshoring. In fact, we work with suppliers who produce amazing products made in America every day, and we play an instrumental role in helping small- and medium-sized suppliers grow.

But how can we measure growth for the industry overall? A good barometer is the state of the manufacturing workforce. That’s why we will be regularly diving deep into the latest information from the Bureau Of Labor Statistics to take the pulse of hiring in the industry and to highlight sectors that are growing.

Manufacturing Industry Jobs Update: December 2016

Here is our Manufacturing Industry Jobs Update for December 2016 (scroll down for previous releases):

Unemployment Rate Remains Steady

According to the BLS's Employment Situation report for December, a total of 156,000 new jobs were added to the economy. However, despite this increase, the national unemployment rate ticked up one percentage point, from 4.6% in November to 4.7% in December. 

"17,000 New Manufacturing Jobs Added In December." 

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Within the manufacturing industry, a total of 17,000 new manufacturing jobs were created during the month. However, the unemployment rate rose slightly, from 3.9% to 4%, meaning the industry finished the year with the exact same unemployment rate as it did in 2015. 

Manufacturing Unemployment Rate vs. National Unemployment Rate

Sectors Experiencing Growth

The Fabricated Metal Products sector experienced significant growth in December, adding 5,800 jobs. This marks the sectors largest month-over-month expansion since May 2012.

What caused the big increase? While a number of factors may be at work, construction spend – a major driver of job growth for the sector – reached a ten-year high in November 2016. Even better, construction spend grew by 4.1 percent year-over-year, which indicates that investment in construction activity appears to be sustainable. Hopefully, the trend will continue and this will mark the start of a robust hiring period within the sector.

Other sectors that experienced solid month-over-month growth include:

  • Motor Vehicles and Parts (+2,900 Jobs)Top Manufacturing Sectors December 2016
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Products (+2,400 Jobs)
  • Furniture and Related Products (+2,300 Jobs)
  • Plastics and Rubber Products (+2,200 Jobs)
  • Primary Metals (+2,200 Jobs)
  • Wood Products (+2,100 Jobs)
  • Printing and Related Support (+1,100 Jobs)
  • Petroleum and Coal Products (+1,100 Jobs)


As far as year-over-year growth manufacturing job growth, 2016 proved to be a mixed bag. While many sectors either held steady or lost workers, there were some that generated significant growth. These sectors include Food Manufacturing, which added 23,600 jobs for the year; Motor Vehicles And Parts, which added 15,900 jobs for the year; and Miscellaneous Nondurable Goods, which added 12,600 jobs over the last twelve months.

Sectors To Monitor

While there were sectors that contracted slightly in December, none experienced significant losses.  

Where Are The Manufacturing Jobs?

Two of the four regions generated the bulk of the hiring activity in November*.

In the West, a total of 7,300 new manufacturing jobs were created during the month, and most of them came in a surprising place – California. The Golden State added 6,300 jobs in November, representing by far the most jobs added in a month, within the state, at any time over the past decade. Arizona (600), Hawaii (100), Idaho (600), Montana (100), Nevada (100), New Mexico (300), Utah (400) and Washington (1,100) also contributed to manufacturing jobs within the region.  

The South also experienced manufacturing job growth in November. Georgia's growth was particularly impressive, with 3,000 new jobs created during the month. Other states within the region that added jobs included Arkansas (500), Kentucky (600), Maryland (1,100), Mississippi (800), North Carolina (2,000), South Carolina (2,100) and Virginia (200).

While no other region generated manufacturing job growth overall, Indiana did add 1,400 jobs. 

States Adding Manufacturing Jobs In December
Positive Indicators Abound

According to the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business, economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded by 1.5 percentage points in December. New orders, production and pricing levels all increased.   

Women In Manufacturing proudly supports efforts to increase the number of women in manufacturing. These efforts include engaging young girls in STEM education, professional development and networking groups, and supporting women-owned businesses.

Are those efforts working?

As of December 2016, the percentage of women in manufacturing remained 27.5%. Despite the efforts mentioned above, this represents a decline in comparison to a decade ago when women accounted for 28.7% of all employees in manufacturing.

Women In Manufacturing Jobs Update

Hopefully, the industry will continue to make strides in bringing more women into the workforce.

*Regional and State Data Is Only Available For The Previous Month

Previous Releases:

Thomas Industry update

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