Manufacturing Jobs Up Almost 5 Percent in U.S., Feds Say

The number of manufacturing jobs in America increased by 4.8 percent between 2011 and 2016, preliminary statistics from a new federal report reveal. The increase, from 11.7 million to 12.3 million, was the good news highlighted Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the same time, however, the bureau also noted a less-favorable long-term trend: employment in apparel manufacturing decreased 85 percent over the last 25 years, from an average of 17.1 million in 1991 to 12.3 million in 2016. Even during the past five years, as manufacturing jobs increased overall, jobs in the garment industry continued to fall, declining 12.8 percent — the only manufacturing industry with a decrease of greater than 10 percent during that period. Among other segments showing declines between 2011 and 2016 were computer and electronic products (down 5.9 percent) and printing and related support activities (down 6.2 percent).

Many other segments reported job growth however, including machinery (2.6 percent), petroleum and coal products (3 percent), fabricated metal (5.9 percent), plastics and rubber products (8.7 percent), furniture and related products (10 percent), wood products (13.7 percent), transportation equipment (16.4 percent) and miscellaneous nondurable goods (25.4 percent).

While the release did not break down the data by state, other preliminary bureau data show Pennsylvania’s manufacturing employment for December 2016 at 567,100, up from 566,400 the previous December.

“Manufacturing is on the upswing both nationally and here in the midstate,” said John W. Lloyd, President and CEO of MANTEC, a York-based organization that advises manufacturers. “Manufacturing employment is up and, just as importantly, manufacturing output has increased,” Lloyd added. “Manufacturing is the economic sector that creates wealth and that bodes well for our regional economy.”