The total number of seasonally adjusted non-farm people employed in the US in January 2017 was 145,554,000. This figure was up 2,240,000 (+1.56%) year on year and increased by of 227,000 month on month (0.16%). The economy continues to create strong overall job growth, averaging 187,000 jobs per month. Splitting the jobs into goods producing and service providing reveals that just 13.6% were in the good producing sector. In January, the manufacturing sector employed 12,341,000 while the construction sector employment totaled 6,809,000. Putting these numbers into perspective, Government workers held more than these two categories combined at 22,276,000.
Table 1 presents BLS data on the areas where people were employed for the month ending January 2017 as well as the change in percentage over 1, 3, 12 and 24 months. Construction jobs are up the most in percentage terms, +7.2% over 24 months and +2.9% year on year. Manufacturing recorded the lowest growth, netting just 0.2%in two years and zero growth over the past 12 months. This is a good sign for continued strength in construction heading into 2017 but worrisome for the manufacturing segment.
Figure 1 compares manufacturing and construction employment from 2005 to present on a two axis graph. Manufacturing on the right scale in red and construction on the right scale in blue. After the recession ended manufacturing recovered more rapidly than construction (orange circle). However, since the beginning of 2015 the roles reversed and construction jobs overtook manufacturing as manufacturing jobs plateaued.
Table 2 illustrates what sub-sector the construction were in as of January and references the percentage change over several time periods. Most of the jobs were in heavy and civil engineering (938,900), while commercial buildings ranked in second place at 581,900 jobs. The strongest growth sector by far was highways and streets +37.9% year on year while industrial buildings saw employment levels wain over the past three months, off 3.2%.
At Gerdau, we keep a keen eye on the employment numbers, especially manufacturing and construction since this is where most long product steel ends-up. In addition we know that growth in net job creation correlates to increased steel consumption.