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As good as the October U.S. jobs numbers and revisions released this morning were, the manufacturing results were even better. Industry didn’t regain its status as the nation’s post-CCP Virus employment leader, but it managed to narrow the gap with the private sector and the entire non-farm sector (the U.S. government’s definition of the American employment universe, which also includes government jobs) even though those super-categories turned in sparkling performances themselves.

Domestic manufacturers grew their payrolls by 60,000 on month in October – the strongest sequential gain since the 342,000 rocket ride recorded in June, 2020, when the entire economy’s reopening from the CCP Virus’ initial wave and related economic curbs and consumer caution was in full swing.

Moreover, September’s initially reported 26,000 employment increase was upgraded to 31,000, and August’s downwardly revised 31,000 advance was revised all the way back up to 49,000.

As a result, U.S.-based manufacturing has now regained 1.115 million (80.50 percent) of the 1.385 million jobs it lost during the economy’s virus-induced low point of March and April, 2020. As of last month’s jobs report, its recovery rate was 76.17 percent.

The private sector’s jobs recovery rate rose from 81.74 percent as of the previous jobs release to the 84.57 percent reported today, and the non-farm economy’s recovery rate climbed from 78.78 percent to 81.20 percent. So manufacturing’s momentum picked up faster in October.

Industry’s recent record is all the more impressive considering that its CCP Virus jobs crash during the spring of 2020 (when its employment dropped by 10.82 percent) was smaller than that of the private sector (16.46 percent) or the non-farm sector (17.18 percent).

Put differently, since February, 2020 (the last full pre-pandemic data month), manufacturing’s share of non-farm jobs has risen from 8.39 percent to 8.45 percent (up from 8.43 percent reported in the previous jobs release), and its share of private sector jobs is up from 9.87 percent to 9.91 percent (the same number calculable from that previous release).

Unlike manufacturing’s September’s results, its October monthly jobs increase was highly concentrated in the automotive sector. That complex’s 27,700 sequential payroll improvement equalled 46.7 percent of industry’s 60,000 total. Moreover, the total vehicle and parts job losses of 6,300 reported for September are now judged to be only 5,600.

Interestingly, this job growth is consistent with recent signs that automakers have been learning to manage their way through a semiconductor shortage that’s still continuing. (See, e.g., here and here.)

Other big October manufacturing jobs winners among the major sectors broken out in the official jobs releases) were fabricated metals products (5,800), which keeps hiring strongly despite the continuation of metals tariffs that were supposed to be crippling; chemicals (5,600); printing and related support activites, another big jobs creator lately (4,200); computer and electronics products (3,500); and plastics and rubber products (3,000).

Only three broad manufacturing sectors shed workers seqentially in October – nonmetallic mineral products, furniture, and miscellaneous durable goods – and the losses were small in each case.

Machinery employment deserves special attention because its products are used so widely throughout both manufacturing and big non-manufacturing industries (like construction and agriculture), so its meager 200 October jobs gain was surprising and disappointing. But its robust initially reported 6,300 employment increase is now estimated at 6,500, and August’s results were revised up a second time – from 2,600 to 4,300.

As always, the most detailed employment data for pandemic-related industries is one month behind those in the broader categories, but their September job creation was encouraging overall.

Hiring in surgical appliances and supplies (the sector containing personal protective equipment and similar goods) rebounded by 900 in September, offsetting the news that August’s 2,500 jobs loss was revised down to 2,600. With July’s 900 increase remaining unrevised, the sector’s employment is now up 7.79 percent since February, 2020 – that last full pre-pandemic data month – compared with the 7.03 percent calculable from the previous jobs report.

September was a better jobs month than August in the overall pharmaceuticals and medicines industry, too. The August sequential employment decline of 400 remained unrevised, but payrolls rose by 1,500 in September. July’s upwardly revised jobs gain stayed at 500, leaving the sector’s employment now 5.11 percent higher than in February, 2020 – better than the 4.62 percent calculable last month.

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing isn’t yet out of the woods when it comes to manufacturing and safety problems, and as a result, American aircraft production employment took another hit in September, falling by 500. The net losses of 1,400 previously reported for August and July were unrevised, and the aircraft workforce is now 8.24 percent smaller than in February, 2020 – as opposed to the 8.04 percent shrinkage calculable last month.

But the jobs pictures for the stuff that makes up aircraft got better. Engines and engines parts makers hired 600 on net in September – their best monthly total since the same increase recorded last September. August’s previously reported job loss of 600 is now pegged at 500 and July’s downgraded employment increase remained at 300. The sector’s jobs total is still down by 13.79 percent since February, 2020, but that’s qn improvement over the 14.04 percent calculable a month ago.

Non-engine aircraft parts and equipment jobs were up 900 on month in September. You’d have to go back to June, 2019 to find a performance that good. But employment levels at these companies are still off by 15.82 percent since February, 2020 – just slightly better than he 16.17 percent loss calculable last month.

Not to sound pollyanish, but it’s now tough to identify significant headwinds that could hold manufacturing back from continued noteworthy employment gains. U.S. economic growth looks set to speed up. The CCP Virus may have begun retreating for good. And, strangely, because manufacturing workers have been quitting jobs at skyrocketing, record-shattering rates, their employers also have record-shattering numbers of positions to fill. (See the U.S. Labor Department’s interactive data bases for jobs turnover for the eye-popping specifics.) Even a soaring manufacturing trade deficit doesn’t seem to be making a difference.

Clearly, there’s a lot of pandemic-related distortion still going on. But for the time being, I can’t help but expect that more excellent manufacturing hiring numbers lie ahead.