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May’s monthly manufacturing jobs gain of 7,000 represented industry’s best such performance since January, but the 181,000 yearly increase was the lowest since June, 2014. In addition, the last six months have been manufacturing’s worst such job-creation stretch since May to November, 2013. Partly as a result, the sector’s share of total non-farm employment hit a new all-time low of 8.71 percent.

Manufacturing wages, moreover, rose a measly 0.12 percent on month – the least since December’s drop and much lower than the 0.32 percent gain for the private sector overall, a pattern that, like the job-creation lag, has characterized the entire recovery. Congress’ passage of fast track trade negotiating authority for President Obama figures to expose this vital sector to even more predatory competition and offshoring pressures.

Here’s my analysis of the latest monthly (May) manufacturing figures contained in this morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

>May’s preliminary jobs report shows that manufacturing employment rose by 7,000 during the month – the sector’s best such performance since January. Revisions were positive for March (from no change to a 6,000 improvement) but April’s reported 1,000 gain (which is also still preliminary) remained unchanged.

>Viewed from a longer-term perspective, however, the new data confirmed manufacturing’s status as a major jobs laggard during the economic recovery.

>The sector’s 181,000 May-to-May jobs increase was its lowest annual gain since last June’s 172,000.

>Moreover, the 53,000 net new jobs manufacturing has created since November is the worst such cumulative performance since May to November, 2013, when it added 65,000 jobs.

>Partly as a result, manufacturing’s share of total non-farm employment (the Labor Department’s American jobs universe) sank to a new all-time low – 8.71 percent. At the sector’s absolute employment bottom during the recovery, in February and March, 2010, this figure stood at 10.69 percent and 10.67 percent, respectively.

>May’s figures left manufacturing with its lowest year-on-year employment increase (181,000) since last June’s 172,000.

>At the same time, May’s year-on-year manufacturing job increase was still much better than 2013-14’s 144,000, and 2012-13’s 77,000.

>Since manufacturing hit that last 2010 employment bottom, the sector has regained 882,000 (38.46 percent) of the 2.293 million jobs it lost during the recession and its aftermath. By contrast, the private sector overall lost 8.801 million jobs from the recession’s December, 2007 onset through its February, 2010 absolute employment low. Since then, it has since increased net employment by 12.565 million.

>In fact, whereas total private sector employment is now 3.25 percent higher than at the recession’s beginning, manufacturing employment is still 10.26 percent lower.

>May’s wage data continued to show significant manufacturing under-performance. Last month’s 0.12 percent sequential increase in nominal terms was the lowest since December’s 0.36 percent drop-off. Further, it lagged the 0.32 percent monthly wage increase achieved in the private sector overall.

>Manufacturing’s 1.78 percent May year-on-year nominal wage increase marginally bettered 2013-14’s performance (1.77 percent), but not 2012-13’s 1.97 percent. The May year manufacturing wage rise also trailed its overall private sector counterpart, which rose by 2.30 percent.

>Since the current economic recovery began, pre-inflation manufacturing wages are up less (9.30 percent) than private sector wages (12.64 percent).

>Manufacturing’s wage performance also has been sorry after adjusting for inflation. In real terms, manufacturing wages flat-lined from January through March, and rose by only a penny in April (the latest available figures). During this stretch, real private sector wages overall have actually fallen by a penny.

>Year-on-year, however, inflation-adjusted manufacturing wages rose in April by only 1.91 percent, versus 2.33 percent in the private sector in toto.

>Moreover, as of these preliminary April data, inflation-adjusted manufacturing wages are down by 0.65 percent since the recovery officially began in mid-2009. Real wages for the entire private sector are up 2.13 percent during this period.

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