New Manufacturing Jobs Coming at Hottest Annual Pace Since Reagan

President Donald Trump promised to bring renewal to American factories, and new data suggest he's beginning to make a difference

Image Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The latest Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows new manufacturing jobs being added at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.6 percent in July, a yearly employment growth figure not seen in the sector since 1984 — and the biggest monthly gains since 1994.

“After creating an average of 17,000 jobs per month in 2017, over the first seven months of 2018, manufacturers have added an average of 28,000 jobs per month.  These 2018 employment gains are on track to be the highest average monthly increase since 1994,” according to a White House statement based on data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Overall, “manufacturing added 37,000 jobs in July, with most of the gain in the durable goods component,” BLS said. “Employment rose in transportation equipment (+13,000), machinery (+6,000), and electronic instruments (+2,000). Over the past 12 months, manufacturing has added 327,000 jobs.”

The manufacturing sector lost 12,000 jobs in July 2017, according to BLS.

Overall, the economy grew at a 4.1 percent annual rate during the second quarter, April through June. The July jobs total of 157,000 was disappointing for some economists who hoped the figure would remain above 200,000, as in the previous quarter.

The largest annual increase in manufacturing jobs since 1980 came in 1983, with nearly 70,000 positions added a year and a half after Congress passed President Ronald Reagan’s landmark across-the-board individual tax cuts in May 1981.

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That increase followed the 1982 recession and was among the first evidence that Reagan’s economic policies were beginning to have a positive effect. The eight-year economic expansion that followed was the largest and longest-running in American history.

The White House statement also noted that more growth appears to be in the offing for 2018 and thereafter, not unlike the Reagan years. The package of tax cuts and related reforms approved by Republicans in Congress in December 2017 and signed into law by President Donald Trump contained the biggest federal levy reductions since the Reagan program.

Related: They Didn’t Get Reagan Then; and Washington GOPers Don’t Get Trump Now

“Even with the improved outlook for the manufacturing sector, there is further room for growth in the industry.  Data from [BLS] shows that vacancies in manufacturing through June are on track to set a new record in 2018 — meaning employers have even more positions that they are still looking to fill.

“Currently, the average job openings for 2018 are 445,000 per month; beating out the 2017 average by 55,000 vacancies, and over 190,000 greater than the 253,000 average number of vacancies per month under President Barack Obama.”

In addition, the White House pointed out that “the hiring rate among manufacturers in 2018, which reflects the number of hires relative to the total number of employees in the industry, is also on track to be the highest annual average since 2000.

“This hiring surge is fueled by increased optimism among manufacturers. According to the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook, in the second quarter of 2018, manufacturing optimism reached its highest level in the 20-year history of the survey, with over 95 percent of manufacturers’ having a positive outlook on the future of their company.”

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