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 October 2016 (scroll down for previous releases):
Manufacturing Sectors See Modest Gains
According to the BLS data, 161,000 new jobs were added to the U.S. economy in October, and many manufacturing sectors experienced modest gains.
"161,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in October. What does this mean for manufacturing?"
A recent CNBC article highlighted this very sentiment. In an interview with CMC Food, a food manufacturer in New Jersey, the company's president said that adding robots to the production process has not resulted in any layoffs; on the contrary, "We have to hire people to maintain the machines. We have to hire more production workers to pack the product that is produced. We have to hire people to stock the additional inventory," Culley said. "Warehouse personnel. Forklift drivers. We have to hire workers to truck the inventory to the stores. The stores have to hire more workers to receive the goods and stock the shelves."For example, the Food Manufacturing sector added 2,300 jobs for the month, which brings the number of new jobs added over the past year to 18,400 jobs. The sizable increase in hiring may be an indicator that the growing trend of automation in food production is not negatively impacting employment.
Other manufacturing sectors on the rise include:
- Wood Products (+2,100 jobs)
- Nonmetallic Mineral Products (+1,300 jobs)
- Furniture & Related Products (+1,200 jobs)
- Petroleum & Coal Products (+1,100 jobs)
Overall, the unemployment rate for the industry rose slightly, from 4.2% to 4.3%, which is lower than the overall national unemployment rate of 4.9%.
Sectors To Monitor
On the other hand, there were sectors that experienced significant losses in employment in October. The Machinery workforce, for instance, declined by 6,200 jobs.
Where Are The Manufacturing Jobs?
Looking across the country, the bulk of hiring activity is taking place in the Southern Region. South Carolina, in particular, experienced robust job growth, adding 1,500 jobs in September*. Arkansas (1,200 jobs), (Florida (1,100 jobs), Kentucky (700 jobs), Georgia (500 jobs), Oklahoma (200 jobs) and Mississippi (100 jobs) also added to the region's manufacturing workforce.
While no other region generated manufacturing job growth overall, there were some states that saw hiring improve significantly:
- Indiana (+1,600 jobs)
- New Jersey (+1,600 jobs)
- Massachusetts (+700 jobs)
- Minnesota (+700 jobs)
- Idaho (+500 jobs)
- Iowa (+500 jobs)
California, however, continues to struggle to grow its manufacturing workforce. The state lost 8,000 manufacturing jobs in September*, despite the fact that there were 30,000 new jobs created in the state overall during the same period.
Other Indicators Mixed
According to the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business, economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded by .4 percentage points. The report found that new orders, production and employment are on the uptick, but supplier deliveries are slowing.
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?
As of October 2016, the percentage of women in manufacturing remained stagnant at 27.4% for the fifth consecutive month. Despite the efforts mentioned above, this represents a decline in comparison to a decade ago when women accounted for 28.5% of all employees in manufacturing.
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
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