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Although today’s official new U.S. jobs report (for January) showed a completely unexpected burst of monthly employment creation for the economy as a whole, domestic manufacturing shared only modestly in this sequential boom. Moreover, some long-term revisions released along with the new numbers show that U.S.-based industry remains in a hiring slowdown, though one less severe than previously reported.

Between December and January, domestic manufacturers increased payrolls by 19,000 – the best such result since October’s 37,000. December’s initially reported gain of 8,000 has been upgraded to one of 12,000, and November’s identical original estimate of an 8,000 monthly rise now stands at 14,000.

In addition, according to the revisions, for full-year 2022, manufacturing expanded its headcounts by 396,000 (3.15 percent) versus the 379,000 (3.02 percent) recorded last month.

Consequently, domestic industry’s employment advance still decelerated during the second half of last year, the slowdown was less than initially reported. As of last month’s jobs report, its average monthly job creation downshifted from 39,830 between January and June to 23,330 between July and December. Yet the revisions judge that the first half average was 39,170 and that the second half average was 26,830.

January’s biggest manufacturing jobs winners among the broadest sub-sectors tracked by the U.S. Labor Department were:

>food manufacturing, where hiring hit 6,900. Head counts in this very big industry moved 4.33 percent higher than in immediately pre-pandemic-y February, 2020, versus the 3.79 percent calculable in last month’s pre-revisions data (the figure that will be used for comparison unless otherwise specified);

>beverage, tobacco, and leather and allied product manufacturing (a new name for miscellaneous non-durable goods), which added 5,000 employees on net for its best such performance since last June’s 6,300 pop. Headcounts here are now 10.45 percent above their February, 2020 level, versus the 9.75 percent rise calculable last month;

>non-metallic minerals, whose workforce grew by 4,200 in its best monthly advance since last February’s 5,600. Jobs are now up 4.02 percent since just before the CCP Virus’ arrival stateside in force, versus the 0.14 percent increase calculable as of last month; and

>fabricated metal product, whose companies added 3,100 employees. Even so, employment in this very big sector sank to 0.91 percent less than in February, 2020, versus the 0.73 percent shortfall calculable last month.

The biggest January job losers among the broadest manufacturing sub-sectors were:

>transportation equipment, a big, diverse group of industries whose 8,400 sequential jobs decline followed a six-month tear that featured a surge of 15,000 in December. Still, the latest result was the worst since last May’s 8,700 plunge. Employment in the transportation equipment cluster has climbed by 2.57 percent since that last full data month before the pandemic’s arrival, versus the two percent figure calculable last month;

>chemicals, another large, diverse category that lost 3,500 workers on month in January. This second straight big drop, however, followed a strong run that began back in late 2021, and employment has now improved by 6.80 percent since February, 2020, versus the 6.44 percent rise calculable last month; and

>computer and electronics product manufacturing shed 700 positions in its weakest monthly perfomance sinc September’s 1,300 drop. But its payrolls moved up to 1.77 percent higher during the pandemic period and its emerging aftermath, versus the 1.39percent increase calculable last month.

RealityChek also tracks employment in two industries of special importance to manufacturing and the economy overall, and their January employment experiences differed dramatically.

Machinery matters greatly because its products are used extensively in nearly all manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, and changes in its workforce can signal optimism or pessimism about their prospects.

So the 2,000 monthly increase in machinery workers in January seems to augur well for continued expansion. Moreover, this gain pushed the sector’s employment levels back above where they were just before the pandemic began roiling and distorting the nation’s economy and society – by 1.13 percent. As of last month, they were still 0.24 percent less than in February, 2020.

Yet the automotive industry, whose fortunes have greatly affected domestic industry’s aggregate performance for most of the pandemic period, saw head counts tumble by 6,500 in its worst such performance since last February’s 23,900 plunge. Despite the setback, however, the motor vehicle and parts workforce is now 5.70 percent bigger than just before the pandemic’s arrival, versus the 5.46 percent calculable last month.

RealityChek also tracks a number of narrower sectors that have attracted special attention during the CCP Virus era, but where the data are always a month behind those of the above broader sectors,and their Decembers were substantially mixed jobs-wise, too. Comparisons with pre-revisions November data aren’t possible in these cases, though, because those figures aren’t publicly available.

The shortage-plagued semiconductor and electronic components industries boosted its payrolls by 800, bringing their employment levels 5.56 percent above their totals in immediately pre-pandemic-y February, 2020.

The aircraft manufacturers that were so hard hit both by pandemic-era travel curbs and Boeing’s production woes, continued a recent employment rebound by adding 1,100 more workers in December. But they still employ 5.56 percent fewer than just before the virus’ arrival.

Not surprisingly, aircraft engines and engine parts-makers hired another 800 employees that month for their best such performance since July’s 900. Their headcounts are now off just 8.08 percent since February, 2020.

Non-engine aircraft parts producers’ payrolls increased by 100, but are still down 16.44 percent since the pandemic era began.

The story was very different, however, in many of America’s key healthcare manufacturing sectors, as all three followed here reported December job cuts.

In the surgical appliances and supplies industries that turn out so many of the products used to fight the CCP Virus, employment fell by 400 – their worst such performance since last June’s 600 decline. Their headcounts are now just 1.14 percent bigger than in February, 2020

The big pharmaceuticals and medicines sectors shrank their workforces by 1,100 – the most since July’s 2,900 falloff. But employment here is still up 14.25 percent since that last full pre-pandemic data month of February, 2020.

The pharmaceutical sub-sector that contains vaccines let 1,200 employees go in December in its worst such performance since back in December, 2018 when they also laid off 1,200. But since February, 2020, their payrolls have still risen by 20.10 percent.

Optimists can legitimately observe that U.S.-based manufacturing’s meh employment increases lately have been pretty impressive given that the sector has been in a recession (albeit a mild one) for just over a year. But since the pandemic’s peak in the spring of 2020, it’s benefited pretty consistently from a strongly recovering broader economy. It’s anything but clear if domestic industry can keep up even that sluggish pace if the Federal Reserve’s anti-inflation policies do start slowing growth, much less trigger a recession.