The total number of seasonally adjusted non-farm people employed in the US in February 2017 was 145.80 million. This figure was up 2.24 million (+1.56%) year on year and increased by of 235,000 month on month, (0.16%). The economy continues to create strong overall job growth, averaging 188,000 jobs per month over the past 12 months, an increase of 1.6% year on year (y/y), and a 3.5% increase over two years.
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. However, since the beginning of 2015 the roles reversed and construction jobs overtook manufacturing as manufacturing jobs plateaued. In February, manufacturing added 28,000 job on a month over month (m/m) basis and 60,000 y/y. Construction jobs increased by 58,000 m/m and by 253,000 on a y/y comparison.
Table 1 presents BLS data of the sectors where people were employed for the month ending February 2017 as well as the change in percentage over 1, 3, 12 and 24 months. Service providing jobs totaled 125.86 million and were up 1.6% y/y. Goods producing job summed to 19.94 million. Of this total 12.38 million were in the manufacturing sector, while construction accounted for 6.88 million. As a point of interest, there were more 2.38 million more government workers than there are in the entire goods producing sector as of the end of February.
Over the past three months goods producing jobs grew faster in percentage terms than service providing, 0.9% vs 0.4%. On a 12 month basis, service jobs grew faster. It’s too early to say, but hopefully this is a trend that will continue.
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.