U.S. monthly manufacturing employment grew for the fifth straight month in April for its best such performance since a nearly two-year stretch of sequential gains from 2013 to 2015. As a result, the sector continued to edge out of its latest jobs recession. But the monthly pace of employment increases (6,000 in April) fell for the third consecutive month.
In addition, manufacturing’s share of total non-farm payrolls fell to its latest record low – 8.46 percent. Revisions were negative by 2,000. Year-on-year manufacturing employment growth sped up again in April (to 40,000) – its best annual improvement since February, 2016 (69,000).
Pre-inflation manufacturing wages in April recorded their best monthly improvement (0.68 percent) since last October (0.73 percent). And for the first time in four months, these manufacturing wage advances exceeded that of the overall private sector (0.27 percent.) Year-on-year current dollar manufacturing wage momentum seemed to stall out, registering its slowest such advance (2.71 percent) since last August (2.68 percent). But the strong monthly gain resulted in industry’s annual wages gains resuming their recent pattern of topping those of the private sector (2.55 percent).
Manufacturing remained a recovery-era jobs and wages laggard, but the gap in pay at least narrowed between March and April from a 22.81 percent difference between the recovery-era increase in cumulative private sector and manufacturing wage increases to an 18.61 percent difference. Yet the latest (March) real wage data kept showing manufacturing pay falling further behind.
Here’s my analysis of the latest monthly (April) manufacturing figures contained in this morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
>Manufacturing employment grew sequentially for the fifth straight month in April, enabling the sector to keep edging out of its latest jobs recession and record its best stretch of monthly employment improvement since the August, 2013 to July, 2015 period.
>But April’s monthly gain of 6,000 represented the third straight month of slowing advances, and helped drag industry’s share of total nonfarm payrolls (the government’s definition of the U.S. employment universe) to it’s latest all-time now – 8.46 percent.
>So did slightly negative revisions, with March’s originally reported 11,000 monthly jobs gain revised up to 13,000, but February’s already downgraded 26,000 increase reduced again to 22,000.
>On the brighter side, the April figures were good enough to produce a year-on-year manufacturing jobs improvement of 40,000 – the best such advance since February, 2016’s 69,000. The April annual advance also bettered that between the previous Aprils (35,000).
>Manufacturing wages presented a mixed picture, too. In April, industry pay before inflation enjoyed its best monthly increase (0.68 percent) since last October (0.73 percent). The spurt was especially welcome, since the sector’s monthly March wage change was revised down from 0.04 percent to zero.
>Moreover, for the first time since December, such manufacturing wage rises resumed outpacing increases in the private sector overall (0.27 percent).
>The year-on-year April manufacturing pre-inflation wage increase of 2.71 percent, however, was its slowest since last August (2.68 percent). It was lower, too, than that of April, 2015 to April, 2016 (2.99 percent). At the same time, the new April result also bested that of the private sector overall (2.55 percent), continuing a streak of out-performance that began in March, 2016.
>On a pre-inflation basis, manufacturing’s wage increases during the current economic recovery still trail those of the private sector, but the gap narrowed between March and April. The revised figures for the former month show that private sector wages had risen by 17.98 percent since the current expansio began in mid-2009 – 22.81 percent faster than manufacturing wages (14.64 percent).
>As of April, however, private sector wages during the recovery were up by 18.29 percent while manufacturing wages had improved by 15.42 percent – a gap of only 18.61 percent. ,since the expansion began in mid-2009.
>Yet when wages are adjusting for inflation, manufacturing’s performance looks worse than ever. The latest figures only cover March, but show that industry’s 0.37 percent price-adjusted monthly pay improvement fell short of the overall private sector’s 0.47 percent advance.
>Year-on-year, manufacturing wages were up only 0.19 percent – also worse than the (also meager) 0.28 percent rise for the private sector.
>As a result, real manufacturing wages have increased by only 0.93 percent during the current, nearly eight-year old economic recovery. Overall private sector wages are up 3.97 percent.
>In April, manufacturing retained its status as an employment laggard, too. During the recovery, its payrolls are up by only 5.71 percent. The total for employment in the private sector as a whole? 14.09 percent.
>Since the late-2007 onset of the last recession, manufacturing’s performance is equally poor. From that time to the early 2010 troughs, manufacturing lost 2.293 million jobs and private sector payrolls shrank by 8.801 million.
>Since then, manufacturing has regained just 41.43 percent of those lost jobs (a total of 943,000). The private sector as a whole has boosted employment by 16.436 million.
>As a result, total private sector employment is now 6.62 percent higher than at the recession’s late-2007 onset, but manufacturing employment is still 9.82 percent lower.