The total number of seasonally adjusted non-farm people employed in the US in March 2017 was 145,858, million (M). This figure increased by of 98,000 month on month (0.10%). Within the private sector there were 123,540 M workers employed, up 1.6% year on year (y/y) and up 0.07% y/y.
Table 1 presents BLS data on the areas where people were employed for the month ending March 2017 as well as the change in percentage over 1, 3, 12 and 24 months. All cells in the table were green, meaning a positive change in every category. Of the 145.858 M total employed, 125.90 M or 86.3% worked in the Service Providing sector while 19.97 M made their living in the Goods Producing segment of the economy. Construction plus Manufacturing jobs account for 96.5% of the Goods Producing segment with manufacturing at 12.39 M and Construction at 6.88 M in March. Construction jobs were up the most in percentage terms, 3.5% y/y and 0.4%, 3 months y/y. Manufacturing jobs grew by 0.8% y/y and by 0.4%, 3 months y/y.
Figure 1 plots seasonally adjusted (SA), manufacturing jobs from 2010 to present on a two axis graph. Manufacturing on the left scale as blue-bars and the unemployment rate in percent on the right-hand scale in red. Since the beginning of 2015 manufacturing jobs plateaued in a tight range at very close 12.30 million. The good news is that the rate has ticked up in each of the three months so far in 2017.
Figure 2 plots (SA), construction jobs in the same fashion as Figure 1. Construction jobs have picked-up over the past four years after remaining essentially flat at 5.52 M in 2010 and 2011. Job gains in construction y/y since 2012 have been robust up until the most recent year. From ’12 to ’13 +185,000, from ’13 to ’14 +285,000 from’14 to ’15 +309,000 from ’15 to ’16 +294,000. However from ’16 to ’17 construction jobs rose by just 17,000. The restrained job growth looks to be due to worker shortages and increased labor costs rather than a slowdown in construction activity. All of the indicators we follow point to a continued expansion in construction actively.
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.