The big question raised by today’s second straight expectations-clobbering official monthly U.S. jobs report (for June) is whether the surge in recovered employment can withstand whatever second CCP Virus wave of infections, or resurgence of the first wave, numerous states have been seeing lately.
I can’t answer that knowledgeably – and I suspect few others can, either. What I can do is note that the June numbers roughly repeat or confirm some of the patterns visible for May. Mainly, manufacturing held up better than the rest of the American jobs market, and within manufacturing, the swings have been dominated by the automotive sector.
Domestic industry added a net 356,000 workers to its payrolls in June, and revisions for the last two months – as with non-farm jobs as a whole (the U.S. government’s jobs universe) – were slightly positive (virtually unchanged at a 1.32 million net loss for April, upgraded from a 225,000 to a 250,000 net gain in May).
Fully 55 percent (195,800) of those 356,000 new June manufacturing jobs came in the automotive sector – a rubber band-like comeback surely reflecting the outsized hit this industry has taken since the CCP Virus threw the entire economy into a deep downturn. Even with this improvement, since February, combined vehicle and parts employment is down more than twice as much relatively speaking (12.11 percent) as overall manufacturing employment (5.89 percent).
Further, overall manufacturing’s record of pandemic-era resilience continued in June. Its monthly jobs growth was only 3.03 percent – slower than the rate for the total non-farm sector (3.61 percent) and the private sector (4.27 percent).
But a main reason is that manufacturing has taken a much smaller CCP Virus hit than the rest of the economy. That 5.89 percent employment loss since February has been considerably less than that of the non-farm sector (9.62 percent) or the private sector (10.17 percent).
Manufacturing employment could face some intriguing crosswinds in the months ahead. A second virus wave or a re-strengthening first wave may well slow its jobs rebound going forward, since U.S.-based industry sells so much to those domestic service industries that have borne the brunt of the pandemic-created economic damage. At the same time, domestic manufacturers were selling just under 18 percent of their gross output overseas as of the end of last year, so if recoveries quicken overseas, U.S.-based manufacturers and their workers could benefit significantly.
In this vein, one possibly hopeful sign is that as of May, according to this morning’s monthly U.S. trade report from the Census Bureau, manufacturing exports are down a whopping 15.74 percent year-to-date. And they fell 5.28 percent in May alone. Therefore, precisely because the “comps” have been so lousy, domestic manufacturers could experience something of a rubber-band-like bounceback of their own – at least in the near-term future.