New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide mixed updates on job openings and labor turnover in the manufacturing sector. The positive news is that job openings for manufacturers rose from 183,000 in September 2010 to 232,000 in August 2011 to 242,000 in September 2011.

For this most recent month, 9,000 of the net increase in job openings stemmed from the durable goods sector, which has experienced signs of a rebound in several recent reports. Overall, job openings for manufacturing and the economy as a whole have been on a upward trajectory over the course of the past year.

Yet, the report also finds that net hiring has become more negative in September, with 246,000 separations and 239,000 hires. This suggests that there were 7,000 more separations than hirings, reflecting a  modest deterioration in employment for the sector.

Interestingly, hirings have fallen from 263,000 in May, but separations have also declined over that time period, as they were 272,000 in May. The overall rates of both have moved more or less in tandem, with some months experiencing net hiring and others not. Currently, the rate of hiring equals 2 percent of the manufacturing workforce, compared to 2.1 percent for separations.

Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.