Federal Estimates Show Slight Decline in Manufacturing Jobs

The official totals showed the country lost 1,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector compared to February numbers, which BLS officials characterized as "little change" in employment.

The latest monthly estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that manufacturing jobs declined slightly in March.

The official totals showed the country lost 1,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector compared to February numbers, which BLS officials characterized as "little change" in employment.

Analysts, however, said the trend "certainly is not in the right direction.” John Canally, a vice president at LPL Financial, told U.S. News & World Report the numbers likely stemmed from a strong dollar and the effects of astrike at West Coast ports.

"You could probably blame a lot of that on the stronger dollar, certainly in the energy space ... and probably somewhat on the weather here recently," Canally said.

The BLS numbers followed estimates from the Institute for Supply Management that showed declining factory production for the fifth consecutive month.

Employment in the mining sector, meanwhile, declined by 11,000 last month compared to February. That category — which includes oil and gas extraction — lost 30,000 jobs during the first quarter of the year as energy companies adjusted to plummeting global crude prices.

Total employment nationwide increased by about 126,000 in March, according to the report, breaking a year-long streak of monthly job gains in excess of 200,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent.

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