Manufacturing added 4,000 jobs in April, with the net gain coming entirely in non-durable goods.
The tepid performance in manufacturing was in contrast to an overall strong jobs report released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total non-farm employment rose by 263,000 jobs last month. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent from 3.8 percent the month before, a more than 49-year low. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a jobs gain of 185,000.
Manufacturing, especially durable goods, was stuck in neutral.
Some durable goods categories posted job increases, according to a breakdown by industry sector. They included semiconductors (up 2,900), transportation equipment (up 1,900) and miscellaneous manufacturing (up 1,400).
But those gains were offset by losses, including machinery (down 2,700) and primary metals (down 2,100). Motorized vehicle and parts, part of the overall transportation figure, lost 1,500 jobs. As a result, non-durable goods provided all of the net gain for manufacturing in April.
For most of 2018, durable goods paced job gains in manufacturing. That’s cooled off this year. The motor vehicles and parts category is being affected by slowing vehicle sales following four consecutive years of deliveries of 17 million or more.
Manufacturing totaled 12.838 million jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, up from an adjusted 12.834 million in March. The April figure also was higher than the 12.634 million in April 2018
Manufacturing jobs peaked in June 1979 (19.6 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, 19.7 million unadjusted). That sank to a low of 11.45 million adjusted and 11.34 million unadjusted in February 2010 following a severe recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis.
Since that low, new manufacturing jobs have been created requiring increased skills because of increased automation and technology in factories.