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Latest jobs report shows positive signs for manufacturing

The latest BLS jobs report: Highs, lows, with a side of salt. Job openings have hit an all-time high. That sounds good, but many experts are heeding caution. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector is performing at an unexpectedly robust level, continuing a pattern that has now powered through most of the calendar year.

June clocked out with over 6 million job openings (~6.2 million) after closing around 5.7 million the previous month. This marks a new record, far exceeding the previous mark of 5.97 million vacancies set in July of last year. A handful of sectors responsible for these openings are familiar; many owe their lack of hiring to a scarcity of skilled workers. These include construction, professional and business services, and trade, transportation and utilities – all of which posted their highest levels of vacancies since July 2016.

Manufacturing hiring managed to eclipse 300,000 for a fourth consecutive month – something the economy hasn’t seen since early 2008.

Even a casual observer of the stock market will have noticed its recent ascent. Nonetheless, proper awareness includes knowing that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is not a thorough barometer of how the U.S. economy is doing, much less how the job market is performing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly U.S. Jobs Report—although it still needs some salt on the side—is a more credible source of information on which to base a gauge of the economy’s performance. Its most recent release compiles all data through the last day of June, and was released August 8.

Layoffs and discharges, meanwhile, climbed for a second consecutive month to their highest level in more than a year at 1.7 million. That’s still shy of the nearly 1.8 million layoffs posted just two years ago and sits comfortably beneath pre-recessionary norms, despite the fact that the labor market has grown considerably since the early 2000s.

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