Job gains in December show modest growth in U.S. manufacturing

January 7, 2013

While global attention has been focused on a potential "fiscal cliff," companies have been quietly going about their own business and ensuring that their futures were not dependent on a last-minute handshake between elected U.S. representatives.

The release of the December job figures by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics seems to have vindicated this decision, with U.S. manufacturing credited for providing some of the 155,000 jobs that were added at the end of the year. For those involved in the industry, the steady gains and lean enterprise principles of 2012 continued to show that the pace of economic recovery still leans more towards a marathon as opposed to a sprint.

According to The Associated Press, U.S. manufacturers added 25,000 jobs in December, the highest number for nine months, helped in part by the robust hiring in construction and by the continued growth of the housing industry. Although the number of Americans out of work still stubbornly hangs around the eight percent mark, there were a total of 1.84 million jobs added by employers in all sectors of business, a figure which bears a remarkable similarity to the number reported in 2011.

Bearing in mind that overseas markets went through an extended period of turbulence, combined with a fractious U.S. election campaign and a period of extreme weather, industry analysts believe that the future of the U.S. economy is looking bright. A number of high-profile manufacturing orders towards the end of the financial year put the spotlight firmly back on products that were made in America, with consumer spending also increasing in both the automobile and retail environments.

Manufacturing companies also showed that it was easier to justify bringing products back to a domestic workforce. Continued concerns over foreign supply chains coupled with a perception that overseas commitment to quality management in manufacturing was dropping saw a number of companies make high-profile announcements about where they believed the future of their product lay.

While the December gains are not spectacular, economists see that there is momentum building, although there is due to be a wave of government spending cuts in March. These could impact on companies that rely on the military or educational sectors for business but, according to Reuters, there is every chance that these cuts could be pushed back to 2014, ensuring that manufacturing growth remains on track for a bright twelve months.