Manufacturing jobs fell in March month-to-month for the first time since July, 2013, the new Labor Department jobs report showed. In addition, the sector’s January and February figures were revised down, and March’s year-on-year improvement was the smallest since last June. Wage growth in manufacturing picked up slightly (though not in inflation-adjusted terms) but the sector remains a major recovery pay laggard.
These resumed job losses and ongoing wage lag keep mocking the manufacturing renaissance claims of President Obama and other cheerleaders. And Congressional passage of the president’s Pacific Rim trade deal can only worsen the troubles of this vital, productivity-leading sector by exposing it to even more predatory foreign competition.
Here’s my full analysis of the manufacturing highlights of this morning’s March employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
>Today’s preliminary March jobs figures show that manufacturing lost net jobs on month for the first time since July, 2013.
>Last month, the sector lost 1,000 jobs on net. Moreover, February’s initially reported 8,000 increase was revised down to a still-preliminary 2,000, and January’s downwardly revised 21,000 number was lowered further, to 17,000.
>As a result, March’s year-on-year manufacturing job gains (188,000) were the sector’s lowest since June’s 172,000. Annual manufacturing job growth has now fallen each month this year.
>At the same time, March’s year-on-year manufacturing job increase was still much better than 2014-15’s 125,000, and 2013-14’s 107,000.
>The March Labor Department figures also confirm manufacturing’s status as a serious wage laggard during the current economic recovery.
>The sector’s pre-inflation wages actually rose more on a monthly basis in March (0.28 percent) than in February (0.16 percent), but not as fast as in January (0.40 percent). (The February and March figures are still preliminary).
>Further, manufacturing’s 0.28 percent March wage hike matched that of the overall private sector, and its February 0.16 percent increase beat the 0.12 percent private sector improvement.
>Year-on-year, however, private sector wages increased by 2.14 percent in March versus manufacturing’s 1.42 percent. In February, yearly manufacturing wages rose by 1.26 percent, also much less than the private sector’s 2.02 percent.
>In addition, manufacturing’s March 1.42 percent year-on-year wage growth was dwarfed by its 2.53 percent advance between March, 2013 and March, 2014, though it topped the 1.09 percent rise of 2012-2013.
>Over the longer term, however, pre-inflation manufacturing wages have performed even worse. They are up only 8.95 percent since the current recovery began in mid-2009. Overall private sector wages have risen by 12.18 percent during this period.
‘>An even sorrier manufacturing wage performance emerges after adjusting for inflation. In real terms, manufacturing wages dipped by 0.09 percent on month in February (the latest available figures), after soaring by 1.04 percent in January. The February decrease matched that of the private sector, but the January pop trailed the private sector’s 1.25 percent jump.
>Moreover, as of these preliminary February figures, inflation-adjusted manufacturing wages have risen by 1.33 percent on year, versus January’s 1.53 percent. That’s much higher than the fractional (at best) gains seen for most of 2014. But this latest manufacturing increase was less than the 2.13 percent February yearly advance for all private sector workers.
>In addition, since the recovery, real manufacturing wages are down 0.84 percent. Private sector wages on the whole are up 2.13 percent after inflation.
>Despite the recent improvement, because total non-farm employment keeps growing strongly, too, manufacturing also remains a job-creation laggard during the current economic recovery.
>From the start of the recession in December, 2007 through its employment bottom in February, 2010, total non-farm jobs shrank by 8.695 million. Since then, such employment has grown by 11.534 million.
>By contrast, manufacturing lost 2.293 million jobs from December, 2007 through February, 2010. Since then, it has regained only 866,000 net new jobs (37.77 percent) Manufacturing, therefore, has generated only 7.51 percent of the total jobs regained by the economy since that trough.
>As a result, although manufacturing still represented 10.69 percent of all non-farm jobs in February, 2010, its share as of March is down to 8.73 percent.