Overall February Employment Strong for Manufacturing and Service Sectors

Hiring expectations even stronger for March

Overall U.S. employment growth was strong in February for both the manufacturing and service sectors as employers filled open positions.

The employment increase is attributed to typical seasonal hiring, however, the manufacturing growth is stronger than this time last year, and data indicates March employment growth for both sectors to be even greater than February.

The findings are reported in February’s Leading Indicator of National Employment (LINE™), a collaborative effort between the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations. 

Manufacturing employment climbed substantially due to seasonal hiring with nearly 46% of employers hiring new workers. Manufacturers primarily are hiring exempt employees; however, nonexempt employment grew also. The strong growth is expected to last because employers reported an increase in the number of new positions for which they are currently recruiting.

The number of vacant positions in manufacturing is higher than a year ago and at its highest level since September 2004. The LINE data also indicates that it is getting increasingly difficult for manufacturers to recruit skilled candidates; however, there is no indication that it is having any effect on new-hire compensation.

Employment expectations for the next 30 days are much higher than a year ago, and the February LINE report shows more than 55% of manufacturers planning to hire for vacant positions in the coming month.

In the private service sector, the January LINE report showed that employment was expected to grow at a healthy pace in February, and that was evident as more service sector employers added new workers to their payrolls.

Employment expectations for the next 30 days appear strong; however, February LINE data shows fewer service sector employers recruiting for vacant positions than in January. There is little change in employer's ability to recruit skilled employees or in the need to increase new-hire compensation.

LINE is an economic indicator that identifies early economic trends and changes in the national job market by surveying human resource (HR) executives at manufacturing and service sector firms. It reports on five employment measures, three of which are unique to LINE. An index value above 50 indicates employment is growing, while an index below 50 shows that employment is contracting. For a full copy of the report and a detailed description of each component, go to www.shrm.org/LINE.


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