There were 856,000 manufacturing job openings in December, inching up from 853,000 in November but down from a record 955,000 in October,” said Moutray. “More importantly, it was the ninth straight month with openings that have exceeded 800,000, averaging 883,000 over that time frame…. Overall, job postings remain well above pre-pandemic levels, as companies ramp up activity and need more workers to meet the additional capacity.”

In the larger economy, nonfarm business job openings rose from 10,775,000 in November to 10,925,000 in December, which was not far from the record set in July, which was 11,098,000,” said Moutray. “There were 6,319,000 unemployed Americans in December, which translated into 57.8 unemployed workers for every 100 job openings in the U.S. economy. That number speaks to the extreme tightness of the labor market, with more job openings than people looking for work.”

“Manufacturing activity decelerated in January, with supply chain, workforce, COVID-19 and price issues weighing heavily on sentiment despite solid (but slowing) demand,” said Moutray. “Omicron’s advance continues to place a significant weight on manufacturing operations and on the economy, raising the real concern that a stubbornly high rate of unvaccinated individuals will continue to hold us back. The ISM® Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index® declined from 58.8 in December to 57.6 in January, with eased growth for new orders (down from 61.0 to 57.9), production (down from 59.4 to 57.8) and inventories (down from 54.6 to 53.2). Encouragingly, employment (up from 53.9 to 54.5) improved for the fifth straight month, and exports (up from 53.6 to 53.7) strengthened marginally.”