Factories posted gains last month, but manufacturing still remains down 378,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic.
The job numbers for August are in, and manufacturing posted some solid gains, representing an outsized share of the overall employment recovery. Factories added 37,000 manufacturing jobs in August as many came back online following shortages, even amidst continued supply chain squeezes and a resurgent Delta Variant.
Unfortunately, despite the job gains, the jobs report had some disappointments, too. Manufacturing still remains down 378,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic, and job numbers in the overall economy came in far below what was predicted. The economy only added 235,000 new jobs in August, when projections had called for 720,000. It ended up being the weakest month for job growth since January 2021.
The Delta Variant is likely to blame for much of the slowdown in job growth. Hiring was most affected in the leisure and hospitality sector, which has been hit hard by people reconsidering their plans as COVID-19 infections rise, particularly in areas of the country with low vaccination rates.
But the setbacks facing these industries make a clear illustration of why manufacturing plays such a vital role in the American economy.
Despite major supply chain shortages, including delays in shipping due to both the pandemic and Hurricane Ida — and a continued semiconductor shortage that has rocked the auto industry in particular — manufacturing has continued to chug along. American manufacturers have been stepping it up to keep us supplied with the things we need to live (remember the toilet paper shortages of 2020?) and keeping our economy humming in the process.
And in times of crisis, we must recognize that it is our manufacturers that we depend on. After all, the United States does not want to face another crisis without enough personal protective equipment or medicine.
Simply put, manufacturing is critical to both our national security and our economy. That’s why it is so vital to implement smart public policy to strengthen this pivotal industry, which will create jobs in the process. Here’s AAM President Scott Paul with more:
“We can accelerate factory jobs momentum by getting robust infrastructure investment across the finish line and taking steps to reshore critical supply chains for semiconductors, clean energy, and national security goods. While the manufacturing sector still hasn’t recovered all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic-induced recession, I’m optimistic we can do that.”
Such optimism is justified. Right now, the largest infrastructure investment in our nation’s history is waiting for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. It’s time for Congress to pass it, so we can get shovels in the ground and put more people back to work in good-paying, union jobs.