Manufacturing positions in the United States are among the hardest to fill as the labor market remains tight, a key government report released on Tuesday shows.
The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Department of Labor shows that manufacturing sector vacancies rose to a record 509,000 in May, from 496,000 in April. The numbers suggest that factories are not able to find an adequate supply of workers, despite recent weakening in the industry and an inventory buildup witnessed in the second half of 2018 and early 2019 due to the continuing trade war between the United States and China.
The report reflects a sharp decline in May hiring, but layoffs remained low at 1.2 percent. After hitting an all-time high of 7.6 million in the second half of 2018, job openings have been relatively flat this year, suggesting some slowing in the overall labor market.
Vacancies were highest in the construction industry, dropping by 65,000. Job openings in the transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector declined by 60,000, while unfilled positions in the real estate, rental and leasing industry fell by 49,000. The construction and transportation industries have been identified as among those struggling the most with worker shortages.
Although the report lags a month behind other Labor Department data, it adds context to monthly employment figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and hiring.
The report implies that the U.S. job market may finally beginning to settle following a turbulent start to the year; while May job openings cooled, the June hiring report was relatively positive. This indicates the economy may not be slowing as much as previous data suggests, and provides additional data points for the Federal Reserve to review as it considers a potential rate cut in July.