Manufacturers adding workers
- Manufacturers added 29,000 workers in August, slowing but extending the 41,000 gain in employment in July. Despite increases over the past four months, the labor market remains well below its pre-COVID-19 pace, with manufacturing employment down 720,000 since February. As such, sizable labor market challenges continue despite recent progress.
- Manufacturers added 66,000 workers in September, rising for the fifth straight month but with employment still down by 647,000 since February. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 661,000 in September, somewhat below consensus estimates despite increasing for the fifth consecutive month.
- The current outlook is for manufacturing employment to bounce back to roughly 12,350,000 workers by year’s end, up from 12,132,000 in August but down from the pre-pandemic pace of 12,852,000 in February.
- The overall labor market data provided mixed results. On the one hand, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% in September.
- After expanding at the fastest pace since November 2018 in August, the ISM® Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index® slowed somewhat in September, down from 56.0 to 55.4. New orders and production expanded solidly despite some easing, but employment remained negative and raw material prices accelerated.
- New factory orders rose 0.7% in August, but sales of manufactured goods have fallen 5.4% over the past 12 months. More encouragingly, new orders for core capital goods—a proxy for capital spending in the U.S. economy—increased 1.9% in August, with 3.0% growth year-over-year.
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