The latest employment summary from the U.S. Department of Labor reports employment in U.S. manufacturing sector plummeted in October, largely due to the UAW strike. In this article, we’ll explore the most recent manufacturing numbers from the Labor Department, providing gains and losses by specific subsector.
After months of steady gains, employment in the U.S. manufacturing sector declined by 35,000 jobs in October, due almost entirely to the United Autoworkers (UAW) strike that began September 15th, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department issued November 3rd.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy added 150,000 jobs overall in October—about half the number of jobs added in September and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.9%.
Additionally, the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey finds U.S. manufacturers are still struggling to hire, though overall number of job openings in manufacturing has declined. The Labor Department recorded 647,000 unfilled positions for the sector in September, compared to nearly one million open positions reported for the sector one year ago.
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October manufacturing job losses were overwhelmingly led by the motor vehicles sector, which saw a loss of 33,000 jobs altogether. In addition, plastics and rubber products shed 3,100 jobs, chemical manufacturing lost 2,600, while machinery and computer & electronic products each lost 1,700 jobs.
Significant job gains in the U.S. manufacturing sector for October were few and far between, seen largely in food manufacturing, which added 6,200 jobs, beverage, tobacco, and leather; printing and related support activities; fabricated metals; and paper all posted marginal gains.
As of November 3rd, the UAW strike against the “Big Three” automakers is still ongoing. However, the UAW has reached a tentative deal with Stellantis, and ratification votes are pending.
The UAW strike began on September 15, 2023 and has been ongoing for almost two months now. It is the longest US auto strike in 25 years. The strike began with a walkout at one assembly plant at each company, but it expanded six times since then in an effort to step up pressure on the companies at the bargaining table. The union announced its first deal with Ford on October 27, 2023, and then announced a deal with Stellantis on October 30, 2023. However, it failed to reach a deal with GM at that time, despite indications the two were close to a deal.