I was on some travel yesterday and couldn’t put out my usual same-day, post. But here’s my analysis of the latest monthly (May) manufacturing figures contained in that morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
>U.S. manufacturing job creation shifted into a somewhat lower gear in May, with its 18,000 sequential gain the smallest such improvement since last September’s 6,000. Revisions left the last February through April monthly totals unchanged on net.
>Worse news, moreover, came on the manufacturing wages front. Pre-inflation hourly pay flat-lined on month in May – its worst such results since last November’s similar performance. In addition, April’s previously reported 0.15 percent monthly manufacturing constant dollar wage gain was revised down to 0.15 percent.
>By contrast, overall current dollar private sector wages saw their best monthly improvement (0.30 percent) since December’s 0.38 percent.
>As a result, May’s year-on-year manufacturing wage improvement before inflation totaled only 1.85 percent. Between the previous Mays, pre-inflation manufacturing wages advanced by 2.12 percent.
>These increases also lagged those for the overall private sector, where current dollar wages rose by 2.71 percent on year in May. That was the best such performance since January’s 2.77 percent. And it exceeded the 2.46 percent private sector wage gain between May, 2016 and May, 2017.
>Consequently, the wage gap between manufacturing and the overall private sector widened significantly between last May and this. As of last May, during the current economic recovery, pre-inflation private sector wages had increased 21.24 percent faster than manufacturing wages. This May, the difference was up to 28.13 percent.
>Despite May’s somewhat weaker manufacturing employment growth, the sector’s share of total non-farm employment (the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ U.S. jobs universe) remained at just under 8.53 percent. Last May, manufacturing accounted for just under 8.49 percent of total non-farm employment, meaning that during the last year, manufacturing payrolls have grown slightly faster than American payrolls in general.
>In fact, manufacturing’s May year-on-year job creation (259,000) was a tremendous improvement from the figure between the previous Mays (78,000) and the best annual gain since May, 1998’s 262,000.
>Over the longer-term, however, manufacturing remains a significant job-creation laggard. Since it’s latest employment bottom, in February and March, 2010, it’s regained 1.22 million (53.21 percent) of the 2.293 million jobs lost during the recession and its immediate aftermath.
>The overall private sector lost 8.780 million jobs from the year-end 2007 onset of the recession through February, 2010. Since then, it’s created 19.086 million net new jobs.
>Moreover, since the recession’s onset, the private sector has boosted its employment by 8.88 percent. But manufacturing payrolls are still down 7.81 percent from their December, 2007 levels.
>Manufacturing has been an even worse real wage laggard. The latest inflation-adjusted data go through April, and show that manufacturing couldn’t even match the monthly flat-line in private sector wages. In manufacturing, pay between March and April dipped by 0.09 percent.
>Year-on-year, private sector after-inflation wages inched up only 0.19 percent in April, but even that negligible growth handily beat manufacturing’s 1.10 percent decline. Between the previous April’s inflation-adjusted manufacturing wages improved by 0.55 percent.
>Indeed, both the private sector and manufacturing continue to experience technical real wage recessions (periods of cumulative shrinkage lasting at least two quarters). But in the private sector, such pay is off only 0.09 percent since last May. In manufacturing, real wages are down by this amount since January, 2016.
>And whereas private sector wages are up 4.17 percent in real terms during the current economic recovery (which is nearly nine years old), their manufacturing counterpart gained only 0.37 percent – less than a tenth as much.