FMN | May 25th, 2020

Manufacturing (Cont’d from Page 7)


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the slowest pace since November 2016 and down from 422,000 in February. Over the past 12 months, job postings have averaged nearly 430,000 per month. With that said, given the COVID-19 outbreak and the sharp decline in economic activity, job openings will likely continue to decelerate in the April figures. The sector hired 299,000 workers in March, down from 334,000 in February,but separations rose from 318,000 to 732,000, the largest monthly increase on record.As a result, net hiring was -433,000 in March. In the larger economy, nonfarm business job open- ings pulled back from 7,004,000 in February to 6,191,000 in March.After experiencing more job open- ings than the number of people looking for work for 24 straight months, the abrupt stoppage of economic activity amid the COVID-19 outbreak sharply reversed that trend, starting in March.There were 7,140,000 un- employed Americans in March—a figure that rose to 23,078,000 in April, according to the latest jobs data. Digging further into the separations data, fewer workers were quitting their jobs, both for nonfarm businesses (down from 3,436,000 to 2,782,000, lowest since July 2015) and for manufacturing (down from 183,000 to 142,000, a pace not seen since June 2016). At the same time, layoffs increased sharply. Nonfarm business layoffs jumped from 1,846,000 in February to 11,372,000 in March. Initial unemployment claims (see below) would indicate even greater losses inApril and May. Similarly, layoffs in the manufacturing sector rose from 113,000 to 566,000. New York Fed Manufacturing Survey : Manu- facturing activity in the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s district remained very weak despite the rise in the composite index of business conditions from -78.2 inApril to -48.5 in May. Respondents continued to be challenged by disruptions in their operations due to COVID-19, with 60.2 percent of manufactur- ers in the region reporting weaker orders in May. There were also sharp contractions in shipments and the average workweek. Employment stabilized somewhat but remained negative. In May, 20.8 per- cent of manufacturing leaders said that hiring was declining, improving from 58.6 percent who said the same thing in April. Despite the historic declines seen the past two months, manufacturers in the Empire State Manu- facturing Survey felt cautiously positive that activity would rebound over the next six months. The for- ward-looking composite index rose from 7.0 to 29.1 in this release, its best reading in 10 months. More than 56 percent, for instance, expected new orders and shipments to rise moving forward, with 28.4 percent (Cont’d on Page 11)

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Flexo Market News May 25, 2020 9

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