A Good Overall Jobs Report, But a Mediocre One for Manufacturing

By Matthew McMullan
Sep 07 2018 |
Photo by New York State Thruway Authority

Factories shed 3,000 positions in August.

Today is Jobs Report Day! What’s going on over on CNBC?

Uhh, O.K. But what about the employment numbers?

Well: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 201,000 last month, which America’s headline writers agree is a pretty good number. Earnings were up, too. The figure for the manufacturing sector wasn’t particularly rosy, though – factory jobs receded by 3,000 in August, and a revision took July’s 37,000 gain down to 18,000.

That’s a little surprising; just this week, the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly index was 61.3, indicating that domestic manufacturers are feeling confident and will be expanding. It just goes to show that there's only so much faith to be put in reading economic tea leaves.

Here’s what Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul had to say about the latest jobs data:

"Although factory jobs declined slightly in August, it’s important to note that metal-consuming fabrication added 4,000 net jobs. It’s far too early to say how much of this overall factory job stall has resulted from typical summer slowdowns, emerging global weakness, exchange rate effects, or recent tariff changes.

"One item Congress should consider in its waning days is that long-promised boost in infrastructure investment. And the Trump administration should change course and designate China as a currency manipulator when its Treasury Department reports on exchange rate policies next month. Both of these measures would help domestic manufacturers and workers."