Manufacturing staffing hits 10-month high


Manufacturing staffing hit a 10-month high in April, according to a new report from the Institute of Supply Management.
Manufacturing staffing hit a 10-month high in April, according to a new report from the Institute of Supply Management.

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has not released its April jobs report yet – that indicator is set for delivery Friday – a flood of data suggests the national economy and job market are continuing to improve.

In March, builders throughout the U.S. increased their spending on construction projects after two consecutive months of decline, according to the latest available figures. The Associated Press reports that the uptick in construction spending has policymakers more bullish on future growth prospects, as homebuilders and other firms are mulling an increase in construction staffing.

The U.S. Commerce Department announced Tuesday that construction spending edged up by 0.1 percent in March. That figure indicates that spending by such firms rose to a seasonally adjusted rate of more than $808 billion. That figure, according to the Commerce Department, is 6 percent higher than March 2011 levels, when overall spending hit a 12-year low.

The federal government is continuing to help buttress the construction sector's recovery, according to new data. The federal government spent 3.8 percent more in March, with total investment hitting $29.9 billion. Federal officials have championed public works projects that are replacing antiquated bridges, roadways and other infrastructure throughout the U.S.

Private contractors also spent more in March on nonresidential initiatives, the Commerce Department found. Spending on such projects rose 0.7 percent in March, as firms built more office buildings, among other structures.

Moreover, the latest report from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), which monitors the nation's manufacturing sector, was surprisingly strong. The ISM's April report found that manufacturing staffing and overall production at U.S. factories jumped from the month before. In fact, the ISM report found that the nation's manufacturing grew in April at its fastest pace in nearly a year.

U.S. manufacturers reported a jump in new orders, production and employment, according to data from the ISM report. The sector has helped drive an overall economic recovery in the wake of the recession, and the upbeat figures from factories indicate that demand for goods remains robust, even as Europe struggles to emerge from the financial and housing crises.

The ISM said its index of manufacturing activity hit 54.8 in April. That figure represents the highest such level since June 2011. In March, the index registered 53.4, underscoring how manufacturers are continuing to see a healthy demand for their products. The ISM's measurement of manufacturing staffing also reached a 10-month high, which bolstered economists' claims that the U.S. economy is on track to stage a sustained economic and jobs recovery.

Additionally, analysts said that because the ISM's new orders index also hit its highest level in a year, they are increasingly confident that the manufacturing sector will maintain its torrid pace of growth. The U.S. manufacturing sector has expanded for the past 33 consecutive months, illustrating how factories are helping drive an overall expansion.

Thus far this year, factories have accounted for 13 percent of all the new jobs added in the U.S., according to ISM data. Over the past three months, manufacturers throughout the U.S. have added approximately 120,000 new employees to their payrolls, accounting for roughly 20 percent of total net job growth in the U.S., according to the AP.

Gallup also said this week that its Job Creation Index jumped to +20 in April from +18 in March. The organization said that net new staffing and hiring in the U.S. is currently at its highest level since July 2008.