Although manufacturing activity has been slumping in recent months, which has had an effect on new manufacturing staffing, new signs point to a possible comeback in activity and employment, Reuters reports.
According to the news source, an index of manufacturing in New York ticked up slightly in July after a drastic decline in June, the latest New York Federal Reserve said on Monday. The New York Fed's "Empire State" general business measurement jumped to 7.39 from an earlier reading of 2.29 the month before. The number far surpassed analysts' estimates of a climb to 4.00.
New orders, though, fell slightly to negative 2.69, the lowest level in almost a year. Manufacturing staffing did rise, with the index for the number of employees in the manufacturing industry rising to 18.52 from 12.37 last month. The reading is one of the earliest benchmarks of manufacturing activity in the U.S., and gives an accurate glimpse of the conditions of factories throughout the country.
After being one of the driving forces in the recovery for years and leading the way in employment gains, the industry has looked increasingly unsteady in recent months' reports, namely the report from the Institute for Supply Management. The report, one of the largest in the country, showed the sector shrank in June.
According to Bloomberg, the Fed's report covers New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut. The strong numbers may assuage fears that America's factories are losing steam. However, manufacturing activity and employment are also strongly subject to exports, which could be affected by lower demand from Europe and China.
"The fact that manufacturing is still growing is good news," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. "Any improvement, especially right now, should be welcomed. The sector is still contributing to economic growth."
According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing sector continued to grow last month, however at a much slower pace. More than 11,000 new jobs were added in June, and manufacturing employment growth in the second quarter averaged 10,000 per months, compared with 41,000 per month in the first quarter.
The largest increases were in the manufacturing of vehicle, with 7,000 new jobs, and fabricated metal products, with 5,000.