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An Economic Data Roundup

The Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed a slight decrease in manufacturing jobs for September, while the ISM® Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index® highlighted a slight expansion in manufacturing activity in October. NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray breaks down the data.

Help wanted: “The September report recorded 806,000 manufacturing job openings, down from 846,000 in August but remaining highly elevated,” said Moutray. “Over the past 12 months, job openings in the sector have averaged more than 853,000, remaining well above pre-pandemic levels.”

The big picture: “In the larger economy, nonfarm business job openings rose from 10,280,000 in August to 10,717,000 in September,” said Moutray.

  • “Meanwhile, there were 5,753,000 unemployed Americans in September, which translated into 53.7 unemployed workers for every 100 job openings in the U.S. economy. As a result, there continues to be more job openings than people actively looking for work.”

Activity slows: “ Manufacturing activity expanded ever so slightly, with the ISM® Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index® dropping from 50.9 in September to 50.2 in October, the lowest reading since May 2020,” said Moutray.

  • “The underlying data were mixed but weak overall. New orders (up from 47.1 to 49.2) contracted for the second straight month, albeit at a slower pace, and exports (down from 47.8 to 46.5) deteriorated further. On the other hand, production (up from 50.6 to 52.3) strengthened somewhat, with hiring (up from 48.7 to 50.0) stabilizing after falling in the prior survey.”

In good news . . . Meanwhile, construction spending increased significantly in September, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • “Private manufacturing construction soared 7.6% from $104.78 billion at the annual rate in August to $112.75 billion in September, a new all-time high,” said Moutray. “Private construction has trended strongly higher since bottoming out at $72.46 billion in February 2021. Over the past 12 months, activity has jumped 43.3%.”
  • “As such, these data speak to the strength and resilience of the manufacturing sector and the need to increase capacity to meet demand, even with slowing global growth and lingering challenges,” said Moutray.
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