The headline figure for today’s September U.S. jobs report might have been lousy, but America’s manufacturers delivered excellent results, continuing a show of resilience that’s lasted throughout the CCP Virus era, and that could be closely connected with President Trump’s tariff-heavy trade policies.
Industry added 66,000 net new jobs from month to month – its best totally since June (now confirmed for the time being at a 333,000 gain. And revisions overall were positive.
August’s previously reported manufacturing jobs increase of 29,000 is now estimated to have been 36,000. And July’s results held at 41,000.
Moreover, although the automotive sector’s payroll improvements once more dominated the manufacturing results, the dominance was, as with the data since June, much less pronounced than during the spring. Combined vehicle and parts payrolls rose by 14,300.
Another encouraging development – the broad machinery sector, which is so closely connected with other segments of manufacturing as well as with much of the non-manufacturing economy (e.g., construction and agriculture) – added 13,800 new jobs on net. That’s a major acceleration from previous months’ results.
The other significant manufacturing monthly jobs winners in September included non-metallic mineral products (+6,200), the continually strong food products sector (+5,000), printing and related activities (+4,700), and fabricated metals products (4,200).
By far the the worst September sequential manufacturing jobs performance came in primary metals (-3,400), followed by the huge chemicals sector (-2,000).
September’s advances mean that manufacturing has now regained 716,000 (52.53 percent) of the 1.363 million jobs it lost in March and April, as the CCP Virus was peaking. (Those earlier job losses represented 10.61 percent of the last pre-virus – February – manufacturing employment level.)
The total decrease in nonfarm payrolls (NFP – the U.S. government’s definition of the nation’s jobs universe) in March and April was 22.16 milion – 14.53 percent of the February total and thus a steeper drop than suffered in manufacturing. Since then, 11.417 million, or 51.52 percent, of those jobs have been recovered.
As for private sector employment (which, unlike non-farm jobs, omits public sector employement, which is affected far more by government decisions rather than economic fundamentals), its levels fell by 21.191 million, or 16.34 percent , during the worst of the pandemic. Since April, 11.39 million, or 53.75 percent, of these jobs have been regained.
Given U.S. manufacturing’s extensive exposure to foreign competition, this relative strength is difficult to imagine absent Mr. Trump’s tariffs, especially the high levies remaining on most imports of goods from China. Without the tariffs, it’s easy to imagine a much greater flood of Chinese manufactures into the U.S. market once the People’s Republic and its factories emerged from their own pandemic shutdown, and depressing demand for domestic U.S. produced manufactures – as well as for the employees that make them.