WASHINGTON Feb 7 U.S. manufacturing stayed on
solid ground in January, with employers stepping up hiring by
adding 21,000 jobs to their payrolls and boosting their labor
January's job gains marked the sixth straight month of
increases in a sector that accounts for about 12 percent of the
economy. They came despite a survey early this week signaling a
sharp slowdown in factory activity and job creation in January.
While factory payrolls increased by only 8,000 in December,
November's count was revised up by 4,000 to 35,000.
Manufacturing accounted for 18.5 percent of the 113,000 jobs
created last month, up from a 10.67 percent share in December,
and was one of the brighter spots in a mixed overall employment
"It's still far from a resurgence, but the jobs picture in
manufacturing is certainly better than it was last decade," said
Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing
Manufacturing lost 2.3 million jobs during the 2007-09
recession and has so far recovered 622,000.
"The latest jobs report offers fresh evidence that it is
possible to create manufacturing jobs in America again. U.S.
manufacturing sector is punching well above its diminished
weight," said Paul.
The increase last month was triple the sector's average
monthly jobs gains of 7,000 in 2013. There were notable rises in
machinery, which added 7,000 new positions, wood products and
motor vehicles and parts.
"Manufacturers have noted a pickup in demand and production
over the past six months, which have led to increase in hiring
overall," said Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National
Association of Manufacturers in Washington.
President Barack Obama has set of a goal of 1 million
manufacturing jobs to be created during his second term.
The recent pace over the past three months of 21,300
manufacturing jobs a month is just 3,400 short of the 24,700
pace needed for Obama to achieve that target.
At the current pace, though, he would fall about 120,000
jobs short of the target when his term ends in January 2017.
But with factory activity expected to slow in the first half
of this year after output grew at its fastest pace in nearly two
years in the fourth quarter, hiring could cool off a bit.
The Institute for Supply Management Management's index of
national factory activity tumbled to an eight-month low in
January and its measure of factory employment touched a seven
month low. The index is considered a leading indicator of
In addition, auto makers have seen an increase in inventory
after sales slowed in December and January. This suggests they
would have to cut back production, which could hold back hiring.
"To ensure that the optimism for this year can be fulfilled,
manufacturers want policymakers to adopt pro-growth measures
that will allow them to continue to expand," said Moutray.