In March, manufacturing suffered its worst monthly jobs losses (29,000) since December, 2009 (34,000). In tandem with negative revisions, these figures sank the sector into an employment recession that’s now lasted 16 months – its longest such stretch since the recession. Manufacturing also experienced its first yearly jobs decrease since September, 2010, and its share of total non-farm employment fell to another historic low – 8.55 percent.
Manufacturing’s February and January jobs revisions were both downgrades, but the sector’s pre-inflation wages rose sequentially for the third straight month (due in part to upward revisions). Its year-on-year gains (2.35 percent), moreover, topped those of the overall private sector (2.25 percent).
Here’s my analysis of the latest monthly (March) manufacturing figures contained in this morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
>A 29,000 monthly jobs loss in March – the worst since December, 2009’s 34,000 early in the current economic recovery – extended manufacturing’s employment recession to 16 months. The span of cumulative job loss stretching back to December, 2014 is the sector’s longest since the previous national economic downturn.
>The March decrease coupled with negative revisions also produced manufacturing’s first year-on-year employment shrinkages since September, 2010 (-28,000). A monthly February downgrade resulted in that month’s employment shrinking annually by 5,000, and March’s preliminary figure was -27,000.
>Between March, 2014 and March, 2015, manufacturing gained 193,000 net jobs.
>All these developments combined to push industry’s share of total non-farm employment as a share of total non-farm jobs down to another low since records have been kept – 8.55 percent.
>The new data changed February’s 16,000 job loss to 18,000, and January’s already downwardly revised 23,000 gain to 18,000. December’s downwardly revised 6,000 monthly gain remained unchanged.
>Since manufacturing hit its 2010 employment bottom, the sector has regained 838,000 (36.54 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 increased net employment by a 14.435 million.
>In fact, whereas total private sector employment is now 4.87 percent higher than at the recession’s beginning, manufacturing employment is still 10.58 percent lower.
>The manufacturing wage figures in the new jobs report were better than the employment figures. Before adjusting for inflation, manufacturing wages rose 0.27 percent in March over February levels, and the February sequential change was revised from a 0.08 percent decline to a 0.08 percent gain. January’s 0.35 percent gain remained unchanged.
>The March manufacturing monthly wage gain only slightly trailed the 0.28 percent improvement for the private sector as a whole.
>Manufacturing’s yearly March wage increase of 2.35 percent actually exceeded that for the overall private sector (2.25 percent). It was also significantly higher than the 1.50 percent advance between the previous Marches.
>Yet the March manufacturing wage increase was smaller than February’s upwardly revised 2.40 percent, and the lowest since November’s 2.33 percent.
>Longer term, manufacturing’s wage-laggard status remained intact.. Since the current economic recovery began, in mid-2009, its pre-inflation wages are up less (11.60 percent) than overall private sector wages (14.86 percent).
>Over the long run, manufacturing’s wages have under-performed after adjusting for inflation as well. The latest Labor Department figures are from February, and actually showed that in real terms, manufacturing wages rose sequentially by 0.09 percent from January levels, whereas overall private sector wages flat-lined..
>Year-on-year, though, manufacturing’s 1.22 percent real wage increase slightly trailed the private sector’s 1.23 percent.
>And since the recovery began in mid-2009, real manufacturing wages are up only 0.37 percent, whereas inflation-adjusted pay in the private sector is up 3.39 percent.