The U.S. added manufacturing jobs in December for the first time in months, while annual employment numbers for the sector slowed considerably.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that although the nation's overall hiring numbers were strong, the manufacturing sector added 8,000 jobs in December and 30,000 for all of 2015.
In 2014, manufacturers added 215,000 jobs.
Manufacturing employment slumped for most of the latter half of 2015, with declines in August and September and largely flat employment in October and November.
Analysts attributed the problems to the strong dollar, which makes American goods more expensive in foreign markets, and to reduced inventory levels as producers sought to avoid falling prices.
In December, jobs in durable goods production fell by 6,000 — including a drop of more than 2,000 positions in the auto segment — while nondurable goods increased by 14,000 jobs.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing suggested that the country's manufacturing sector is in a recession and that "nobody thinks 2016 will be much better."
AAM President Scott Paul criticized President Obama over his record on manufacturing — particularly a pledge to create 1 million new jobs in a second term — ahead of his final State of the Union Address.
"There's a strong case that many of the remaining questions about the health of the ongoing economic recovery — wage stagnation, rising inequality and a shrinking middle class — have their roots in the struggling manufacturing sector," Paul wrote.
The U.S. added more than 2.6 million jobs throughout 2015 to cap the best two-year employment increase since the late 1990s.
"The longest streak of private-sector job growth on record continues, now at 70 straight months with 14.1 million new jobs over that time," wrote Labor Secretary Tom Perez.