Industry after industry and sector after sector are recording substantial job growth and productivity. Chief among the trades consistently leading the pack is manufacturing, a reality that proved true once again, this time in April, based on newly released figures.
The manufacturing sector witnessed increased development and production in the first full month of spring, with the overall economy recording its 108th straight month of growth, according to estimates from the Institute for Supply Management. Specifically, the Institute for Supply Management's PMI®, the index measure used to track growth and activity, registered a 57.3 percent, while the new orders index reached 61.2 percent, both down slightly from the previous month but up on a year-over-year basis. The employment and supply deliveries indices also recorded yearly gains despite modest monthly slippage, reaching respective measurements of 54.2 percent and 61.1 percent.
In its monthly analysis of the manufacturing sector, the ISM measures the activity of 18 subsections within the industry, including wood products, appliances & components, electrical equipment, paper products, machinery and plastics & rubber, among others. Of these, 17 recorded PMI® growth in April compared to the same 30-day period in 2017.
"The general outlook for 2018 remains positive and upbeat as we see continued signs of a growing economy and investment in housing and infrastructure," a non-metallic mineral products professional told ISM.
Companies paying more to woe workers
Small businesses serve as the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, accounting for north of 95 percent of the nation's companies, according to the Small Business Administration. Small-business owners were also favorably positioned in April, with a net 20 percent of companies hiring, based on figures compiled by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Additionally, 33 percent of small businesses sweetened the deal for hires by increasing pay, seemingly in a bid to outmaneuver rivaling companies also on the recruiting hunt.
"Small businesses are telling us that they're optimistic, hiring, and willing to raise wages to find the right employees for their businesses," said Juanita Duggan, NFIB president and CEO.
Some industries are more zealous in their recruitment efforts than others, this time around led by construction, wholesales trades and manufacturing, according to the NFIB.
Through the first quarter of 2018, the economy accumulated a half-million jobs, according to the Department of Labor. This has helped keep the unemployment rate to 17-year lows, as it now hovers at 4.1 percent. Manufacturing has maintained momentum, adding 22,000 jobs in March for a total of 232,000 through the year's first three-month stretch. Durable goods accounted for more than half of the openings manufacturers reported.
Manufacturers contribute $2.2 trillion to economy
Not only is manufacturing providing more job opportunities to individuals out of work or those interested in a new challenge or career path, but it has also created substantial amounts of wealth for the U.S. economy as a whole. Indeed, manufacturing brings an estimated $2.2 trillion to the nation's coffers, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.
Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO, said earlier this year regarding the milestone that it wouldn't be possible without the extraordinary efforts of workers and longstanding support of loyal customers and allies on Capitol Hill.
"It's good news for all Americans—and something worth celebrating," Timmons explained. "It's further evidence that manufacturing in America is growing stronger by the day—in no small part because we have leaders in Washington who are making American manufacturing workers a top priority."
Timmons went on to say manufacturing still has room for growth and the best way of going about this is by investing in infrastructure, an initiative that has the potential to "supercharge" an already thriving industry.