This year’s violent hurricane season contributed in September to American domestic manufacturing’s second sequential jobs in the last three months. Industries with extensive facilities on or near the Gulf coast and in the southeast took especially hard on-month hits, notably chemicals (-2,000), apparel (-1,900), and motor vehicles and parts (-3,200). Yet the heaviest single sector job decline came in printing and related activities (3,600).
September employment levels throughout manufacturing, however, also were greatly affected by enormous July automotive revisions, which prolonged a jobs recession in the sector that began in April, 2016. Initially credited with a 1,600 net job rise in July, automotive’s employment improvement was revised up to 5,300, and then dragged all the way down to a net job loss of 27,100. The overall July manufacturing job totals were downgraded from an initial 16,000 net increase to the 11,000 net loss revealed this morning.
Pre-inflation manufacturing wages in September matched the solid 0.45 percent sequential advance recorded for the private sector as a whole. But in manufacturing, this increase followed a 0.49 percent monthly wage drop in August – industry’s biggest since last November (which rounded down to 0.49 percent). Further, manufacturing’s annual current-dollar wage increase of 1.99 percent represents a striking slowdown from the previous year (2.95 percent). Manufacturing’s share of total nonfarm employment actually ticked up, though, in September and August – to just under 8.49 percent. In July, it matched its all-time low of 8.47 percent.
Here’s my analysis of the latest monthly (September) manufacturing figures contained in this morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
>U.S. domestic manufacturing lost jobs on net sequentially in September for the second time in three months, with much of the total 1,000 decline traceable to payroll drops in sectors with many facilities in or near the hurricane-affected Gulf coast and southeastern states.
>For example, significant monthly job hits were taken in the automotive sector (3,200), chemicals (2,000), and apparel (1,900).
>At the same time, the sector with the greatest on-month job losses in September was printing and related support activities (3,600). And the petroleum and coal products industry, another Gulf coast-heavy sector, only lost 100 net jobs from August to September.
>In addition, employment levels throughout manufacturing in September were strongly affected by immense revisions for monthly automotive job changes in July.
>The initial read on vehicle and parts payrolls that month reported a 1,600 monthly jobs gain. The next employment report revised this advance up to 5,300. But this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data tables showed a 27,100 month-to-month net automotive job loss for July.
>As a result, overall monthly manufacturing payroll shifts for July changed dramatically, too – from an initially reported 16,000 improvement to a 26,000 surge to an 11,000 net decrease.
>In fact, these automotive revisions revealed the sector to be mired in a jobs recession that began in April, 2016. Since then, payrolls in the sector have fallen by a cumulative 4,300.
>Manufacturing wages rose a seemingly impressive 0.45 percent sequentially in September on a pre-inflation basis, matching the gain of the overall private sector.
>Yet in manufacturing, this progress was preceded by a 0.49 percent monthly current dollar manufacturing wage drop in August, the biggest such decline since a comparable figure in November. In the private sector, pre-inflation wages rose sequentially in August by 0.15 percent.
>Worse, the September plummet meant that pre-inflation manufacturing wages had risen only 1.99 percent year-on-year – one of the lowest figures of 2017. And this wage gain was much bigger than the 2.95 percent current dollar raise manufacturing workers received between the previous Septembers.
>Moreover, the recovery-era gap between pre-inflation wage increases in manufacturing and in the private sector overall has widened considerably over the last year. In September, 2016, private sector wages had risen 21.55 percent faster than manufacturing pay since the recovery began in June, 2009. This September, the difference was 25.28 percent.
>In absolute terms, during the recovery, current-dollar manufacturing wages are up 15.90 percent in toto and overall private sector wages are up 19.92 percent.
>The latest inflation-adjusted wage data for manufacturing and overall private sector wages go through August, and further darken the pay picture in industry.
>That month, real manufacturing wages plunged by 0.91 percent sequentially – their worst such performance since November, 2011 (0.95 percent). Inflation-adjusted hourly pay for the overall private sector worsened, too – but by just 0.19 percent.
>And since the recovery began more than eight years ago, whereas overall private sector wages have risen by 4.66 percent on a price-adjusted basis, pay has improved by a mere 1.12 percent for manufacturing workers.
>Employment figures tell a similar story. Since hitting its last low point, in February and March of 2010, manufacturing has regained 994,000 (43.35 percent) of the 2.293 million net jobs it had shed since the last recession officially began, in December, 2007.
>Manufacturing employment is still down since that recessionary onset nearly ten years ago, too – by 1.299 million, or 9.45 percent.
>Since its latest employment nadir, in February, 2010, the overall private sector has boosted employment by 17.065 million. That’s nearly twice as many jobs as it lost (8.780 million) during the recession.
>Since the recession began, overall private sector is up by 8.285 million – a 7.14 percent gain over those nearly ten years.
>Somewhat more encouragingly, manufacturing jobs as a share of total non-farm jobs (the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American jobs universe), rose slightly in September and August (to just under 8.49 percent) from the record low it had matched in July (8.47 percent).