At THOMASNET.com, 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.
Here is our Manufacturing Industry Jobs Update for May 2017 (scroll down for previous releases):
Manufacturing Unemployment Rate Shows Modest Improvement
After holding steady at 3.9% for March and April, the unemployment rate for manufacturing declined to 3.2% in May – it's lowest point since June 2000. Meanwhile, the 0.7 percentage-point drop represents the largest improvement in the unemployment rate since June 2016, when the unemployment rate fell a full percentage point, from 4.7% to 3.7%.
The number of unemployed persons within the industry fell from 620,000 to 504,000 – the lowest it has been since at least 2000. However, the number of people employed within the industry fell by 1,000 workers.
As far as the U.S. economy overall, 138,000 new jobs were added, lagging behind the previous 12-month average of 181.000. The national unemployment rate fell slightly, from 4.4% in April to 4.3% in May.
Sectors Experiencing Growth
Many durable goods sectors experienced job growth in May, including the Machinery sector, which added 3,700 new jobs – the most of any sector in the industry. Fabricated Metal Products grew by 3,500 jobs, Primary Metals added 2,900 jobs, and Transportation Equipment expanded by 2,400 workers.
Sectors To Monitor
The Plastics and Rubber Products Sector contracted by 3,800 jobs, marking the third consecutive month of decline.
New Orders Rising, Along With Pricing
The latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business found that the manufacturing sector expanded in May, with new orders and inventories growing. However, deliveries are starting to slow down while prices are increasing.
Where Are The Manufacturing Jobs?
Two of the four U.S. geographic regions experienced job growth in the Manufacturing industry in April*.
The Midwest added 4,900 new manufacturing jobs, mostly concentrated around Lake Michigan. Michigan added 4,900 manufacturing jobs, while Wisconsin added 5,100 and Illinois grew by 1,900. A little further north and west, Minnesota's manufacturing workforce grew by 1,100 workers.
The South region also expanded, increasing by 3,800 manufacturing jobs. Texas added the most manufacturing jobs (8,100) of any state in the country in April, bringing the total number of new industry jobs added over the past year to 16,600 – also the most of any state. Other states with the region that added manufacturing jobs were Georgia (2,200), Tennessee (800), Arkansas (400), Oklahoma (400), Maryland (200), Delaware (100) and West Virginia (100).
While no other region experienced growth overall, there were some states that added manufacturing jobs. These states were: Idaho (1,200), Oregon (1,000), Rhode Island (900), Arizona (800), Maine (700), Colorado (300), Massachusetts (200), Vermont (200), Nevada (100) and Hawaii (100).
Women In Manufacturing
THOMASNET.com 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?
In May, the number of women in the manufacturing workforce increased by 1,000. Over the past year, this number has increased by 36,000. Overall, women represent 27.5% of the manufacturing workforce today.
*Regional and State Data Is Only Available For The Previous Month
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