The jobs report released this morning is a mixed bag, with manufacturing adding jobs while the overall economy lost them precipitously. NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray provided us with the manufacturing numbers from the Labor Department report: “Manufacturing added 38,000 workers in December, rising for the eighth straight month and making the sector one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing (but expected) report.”

And here’s the bigger picture for 2020:

  • “Despite gains since the spring, the labor market for the sector remains well below its pre-COVID-19 pace, with manufacturing employment down by 543,000 in December relative to the level in February. The manufacturing sector had 12,309,000 workers in December, down from 12,852,000 in February but a definite improvement from 11,489,000 employees in April.”
  • “Overall, the manufacturing sector lost 557,000 workers in 2020, the largest annual decline since 2009 and ending three years of gains.”
  • The Institute for Supply Management® reported that manufacturing activity continued to expand solidly in December, ending the year at the fastest pace of growth since August 2018. Growth in new orders matched the pace in October, which was the best since January 2004, and hiring expanded for just the second time since July 2019, with some respondents noting ongoing difficulties in finding talent
  • The ISM® report also noted lingering supply chain disruptions remain, despite solid progress since April in these data, including supplier labor and transportation constraints. Raw material costs rose at the swiftest rate since May 2018.