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Manufacturing reenforced its recent good job gains in December, adding 17,000 net new positions on top of upwardly revised October and November improvements. The sector’s employment, moreover, now stands at its highest level since February, 2009. But manufacturing’s share of total U.S. employment remained at its historic low, and current dollar wages fell in December month-to-month for the third time this year. Moreover, inflation-adjusted gains for November (the latest available figures) were much too small to affect the sector’s lagging performance.

Here’s my detailed analysis of the manufacturing employment picture based on this morning’s December monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plus the Bureau’s interactive historical database (which you can access here):

>Today’s December manufacturing jobs figures provided further evidence of the sector’s recovery from a summer employment slump. In addition, to industry gaining 17,000 jobs last month on a monthly basis, November’s very strong 28,000 gain was revised up to 29,000, and October’s 20,000 net new job figure was revised up to 24,000.

>As a result, manufacturing’s December employment level of 12.239 million was its highest since February, 2009, when it totaled 12.381 million.

>Manufacturing’s year-on-year job-creation was impressive in December as well, reaching a record net gain of 186,000 for 2014.  This total was also much higher than the 88,000 gain from December, 2012 to December, 2013.

>Nonetheless, because total nonfarm employment continued its major improvement, too, manufacturing’s share of that economy-wide figure has remained at a record low 8.72 percent since September. At its February, 2010 absolute employment bottom, manufacturing represented 10.69 percent of total nonfarm jobs.

>Manufacturing has now regained 786,000 of the 2.293 million jobs it had lost on net from the recession’s onset in December, 2007 to that nadir (34.28 percent). Manufacturing’s current employment level of 12.239 million, therefore, is still 1.507 million below its last pre-recession monthly figure of 13.746 million.

>By contrast, since its own February, 2010 absolute recessionary low point, total nonfarm employment is up by 10.692 million. That’s 1.997 million more net new jobs than the 8.695 million lost from the recession’s onset to the employment trough.

>Manufacturing’s share of the nation’s total job gain since February, 2010: 7.35 percent.

>Manufacturing wages after inflation rose in November (the latest figures available) by 0.38 percent on a monthly basis. That was better than the 0.28 October figure. November’s real year-on-year manufacturing wage gains also topped October’s – rising by 0.28 percent versus 0.10 percent.

>But measured year-on-year, real manufacturing wages rose much more slowly in both November and October than they did during the previous year for both months (0.28 percent versus 1.16 percent, and 0.10 percent versus 1.45 percent, respectively).

>Real manufacturing wages as of November are down 1.77 percent since the current recovery technically began in June, 2009.  Since then, overall real private sector wages are up 0.78 percent.

>Nominal manufacturing wages fell on a monthly basis in December for the third time this year.