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Recent Manufacturing Employment Growth

Over the past few months, the labor market has begun to show signs of stabilization. Lost in the excitement of multiple positive employment reports has been growth in the manufacturing industry. Even though industrial production numbers have been trending upward since last June, national manufacturing employment has only recently posted gains, adding 101,000 jobs in the first four months of 2010, while Fourth District states have been at the forefront of manufacturing employment growth.

Manufacturing Payroll Employment

There is no question that the recession has had profound effects on manufacturing employment, as the nation, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have all experienced declines in excess of 15 percent since December 2007. However, it appears that manufacturing employment stabilized in the first quarter of 2010 and is poised for job gains as the recovery gains momentum.

Share of National Manufacturing Gains, April 2010

While manufacturing employment fell in Ohio by almost 20 percent over the course of the recession, the state has been the primary location for recent gains in manufacturing employment. Ohio leads all states in its share of national manufacturing employment gains, accounting for 22 percent of the national increase, followed by Pennsylvania at 9 percent.

Share of Manufacturing Gains, April 2010

  Durable goods (percent) Nondurable goods (percent)
Ohio 70.7 29.3
Pennsylvania 38.6 61.4
Nation 68.2 31.8

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Breaking out manufacturing employment into durable and nondurable goods production shows that Ohio and Pennsylvania differ in their sources of employment growth. Ohio, like the nation, has seen most of its recent growth in the production of durable goods, while Pennsylvania’s growth has been driven by the production of nondurable goods. This is most likely due to the concentration of particular manufacturing sectors within each state.

Going forward, Ohio and Pennsylvania are not expected to continue leading all states in manufacturing employment gains, given longer-term employment trends in the manufacturing industry. However, it could be a pleasant surprise as the recovery plays out.

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