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Marching On

Jobs report suggests growth in manufacturing against all odds

With obstacles both economic and physical; with supply chains strained and a foreign war jeopardizing energy interests; with a workforce torn between staying safe and working from home and getting back into the plant, office, or facility, you'd think manufacturing jobs would have a grim outlook. But the latest BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) jobs report suggests otherwise, clocking job additions of almost 40,000 in the sector in March.

Manufacturing boosted employment by 38,000 jobs in March, the BLS said April 1st.

Both durable and non-durable goods contributed to the monthly gain, according to a breakdown by sector issued by the bureau. Durable goods industries increased by 22,000 jobs and non-durable goods industries by 16,000.

On the durable goods side, the increase was paced by transportation equipment, up 10,800 jobs. That included a gain of 6,400 jobs in motor vehicles and parts. The auto industry’s job performance has been erratic over the past year. That stems from a continuing global shortage of computer chips. The shortage has curtailed production and resulted in temporary factory shutdowns.

Other industries showing job increases included fabricated metal products (up 3,700 jobs), miscellaneous manufacturing (up 2,300), furniture (up 2,200) and machinery (up 1,700). Industries with job losses included non-metallic mineral products (down 4,500 jobs) and primary metals (down 700).

Manufacturing employment totaled 12.657 million jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in March. That was up from an adjusted 12.619 million the month before and 12.268 million in March 2021.

Employment in the sector still trails the 12.785 million in February 2020. That was the last month before the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the U.S. economy. COVID spurred manufacturers to implement new safety procedures.

Total non-farm employment rose by 431,000 jobs in March, the bureau said in a statement. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected an average of 490,000, with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 700,000.

The U.S. unemployment rate slid to 3.6 percent in March, down from 3.8 percent in February.

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