A report that was released by the U.S. Labor Department on January 5 indicated that 200,000 jobs were created in December, and provided strong evidence that manufacturing staffing is likely growing across the country. The robust job growth resulted in the national unemployment rate being reduced to 8.5 percent.
The jobs growth was widespread and covered various industries. Manufacturing and healthcare added 23,000 positions a piece during the month. Additionally, the report showed 24,000 jobs were gained in the food services industry and retail payrolls gained 28,000.
The New York Times reports that the decrease in the unemployment rate mostly came from people finding jobs instead of dropping out of the labor force.
December was the sixth consecutive month where the U.S. economy added at least 100,000 jobs. This sustained jobs growth caused many economists to express increased optimism about the future of the U.S. labor market.
"You got the trifecta - more people working, wages up and the average work week up," Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group Inc. in Pittsburgh, told Bloomberg. "You can’t really argue that that isn’t a sign of significant improvement in the job market."
The positive manufacturing news from the Labor Department's monthly report follows up on a number of recent positive indications about the sector. A report from the Commerce Department, for example, found that overall factory orders increased by 1.8 percent in November, the most recent month for which data were available.
The Associated Press reported this was the largest increase since July and was buoyed by a boost in orders for airplanes.
Across the country, many companies have begun to recognize this trend and are starting to ramp up their manufacturing staffing and activity as a result. In North Carolina, one furniture manufacturer recently invested $5 million and plans to hire 130 workers in Lincolnton.
With North Carolina having lost tens of thousands of furniture manufacturing jobs in the past decade, the owner of the company sought to bring some of these positions back. McClatchy Newspapers reports the owner has even received praise from President Barack Obama, who noted that one doesn't need to be a large manufacturer to make a difference in manufacturing staffing and the economy as a whole.