The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the rate of job hirings and separations was essentially unchanged in July, with each representing 3 percent of the overall labor force. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report found that there were 74,000 fewer hires and 73,000 less separations in July than in June.

For manufacturing, overall hiring fell from 260,000 in June to 250,000 in July, or 2.1 percent of total manufacturing employment. This is down from the 278,000 workers hired in June 2010. Separations also declined, down from 252,000 in June to 241,000 in July, or 2 percent of all jobs in the sector. The number of separations one year ago was 252,000.

The bottom line with these numbers is that hiring outpaced separations for manufacturers in July, which it has done every month this year except for May. The gap between the two was 62,000 in January – its highest point in the last year – but has fallen to 9,000.

A positive sign for the future is that job openings rose significantly in July for manufacturers, up from 217,000 in June to 257,000 in July. The gains were in both durable goods and nondurable goods sectors, but they were larger for durables.

These data show that job separations have leveled off from supply chain issues that occurred in the spring. Yet, they also confirm other weaknesses in the overall economy, with job creation being a central concern. The JOLTS data show that job creation rates have not changed much over the past two years; hence, there is a definite need for pro-growth policies to kick start employment, both within manufacturing and for the larger economy.

Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.