NAM: Hourly Earnings Jumped 4.5 Percent Since Pandemic Began BY CHAD MOUTRAY. PH.D. Manufacturing employment rebounded somewhat, rising by 23,000 in May after falling by a downwardly revised 32,000 in April, according to Chad Moutry, Chief Econo- mist at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). There remained 509,000 fewer manufacturing employees relative to pre-pandemic levels, with 12,290,000 employ- ees in May. Despite job growth for the month, businesses continue to cite difficulties in finding enough talent. There is optimism for continued growth moving forward, with job openings continue to soar (see graph at right). The average hourly earnings of production and non- supervisory workers in manufacturing rose to $23.52 in May, with a 3.3 percent increase year-over-year but jump-
ing 4.5 percent since February 2020. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 559,000 workers
in May, essentially doubling the increase of 278,000 in April, but the consensus was for a gain of roughly 700,000. The U.S. econ- omy continues to have 7,629,000 fewer workers today than in February 2020. The unemployment rate declined from 6.1% in April to 5.8% in May, a 14-month low. Initial unemployment claims fell to a post-pandemic low of 385,000 for the week ending May 29 but continuing claims increased. There were 15,435,982 Ameri- cans receiving some form of unemployment insurance benefit for the week ending May 15, 2021. The ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Man- agers’ Index edged up from 60.7 in April to 61.2 in May, buoyed by stronger demand. With ongoing supply chain disruptions and workforce challenges, supplier deliveries were the slowest since April 1974, with indi- ces for the backlog of orders and customer inventories notching unfortunate new re- cords. In addition, prices rose at the fastest rate since July 2008. New orders for manufactured goods fell 0.6 percent in April, and factory orders rose 0.5 percent. Overall, the manufacturing sec- tor continues to expand, increasing 4.8 per- cent since February 2020, or 7.8 percent. New orders for core capital goods—a proxy for capital spending in the U.S. econ- omy—increased 2.2 percent in April to a new record high, with a robust 15.5 percent growth rate over the past 14 months. Private manufacturing construction spending rose 0.4 percent in April, increas- ing to the best reading since July 2020 and providing some optimism in the construc- tion outlook.
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