Jan 17, 2018

Manufacturing jobs are up sharply from the recession

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Manufacturing has now rebounded sharply from the Great Recession. The sector turned around last year after losing jobs in 2016, and economists say the trend seems to be continuing into 2018.

Why it matters: No one knows precisely why it's happening.

Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, tells Axios it may be a weaker dollar, or a psychological boost from the 2016 election, in which President Trump said he would bring back manufacturing jobs.

  • If animal spirits are part of the story, it may start with Republicans. "Many manufacturing industries are clustered in red states," Kolko notes, "and Trump led Clinton by 18 points among voters who work in manufacturing." 
  • But, but ... Kolko cautions that the gains might be short-lived: Apparel makers lost a higher portion of jobs than any industry last year. "And the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that manufacturing will lose jobs over the next decade — making it the only sector aside from the federal government projected to shrink," he said.

Go deeper

Midwestern manufacturing improved in December but is still contracting

Data: ISM Chicago; Chart: Axios Visuals

The manufacturing industry in the Midwest continued to contract in December, but did exceed expectations and deliver the best reading in four months.

Why it matters: The Chicago PMI, which tracks manufacturing companies based in the Chicago region, continues to rebound from October's abysmal report that showed the weakest number in four years and the second lowest in a decade.

Go deeperArrowJan 2, 2020

U.S. manufacturing activity hits worst level since 2009

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Institute of Supply Management's index of manufacturing activity released Friday hit its lowest level since the end of the Great Recession in December.

Why it matters: It shows worsening conditions for the U.S. manufacturing sector, which has been in contraction for five straight months, and reignites concerns about the trade war's impact on the economy. Stocks, already in the red after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general, fell near the lowest levels of the day following the release of the data.

Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020

U.S. economy adds 145,000 jobs in final report of 2019

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December, the government said on Friday, below economists’ expectations of 160,000. The unemployment rate held at 3.5% — a 50-year low — while wages grew 2.9% from a year earlier, the smallest gain since July 2018.

Why it matters: The U.S. job market held up in the final month of 2019, but heads into the election year with a slowing pace of job creation and wage growth.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020