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April 2011, Vol. 134, No. 4
Manufacturing employment hard hit during the 2007–09 recession
Megan M. Barker
Megan M. Barker is an economist in the Division of Current Employment Statistics, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics. E-mail: email@example.com
During the 2007-09 recession, employment in manufacturing declined sharply. When combined with other manufacturing indicators, the job loss shows that manufacturing was particularly hard-hit during the downturn
Manufacturing employment has been on a downward trend since its all-time peak in 1979 1 with job losses accelerating during economic recessions. 2 In the years following the 2001 recession, employment fell at a faster pace than during other post-recession periods with both durable and nondurable goods experiencing widespread job losses. Manufacturing job losses then accelerated during the December 2007–June 2009 recession and totaled more than 2 million employees, or 15 percent of its workforce, during the 18-month period.
The manufacturing workweek typically serves as a leading indicator for identifying changes in business cycles. 3 Employers often adjust hours before adjusting their workforce to meet changes in demand. Average weekly hours of production employees in manufacturing reached a high in March 2008, 3 months after the start of the recession; the manufacturing workweek had been about unchanged for nearly a year leading up to its peak. The workweek then decreased until March 2009, 3 months before the recession’s conclusion.
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1 The data on employment used in this article are from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, which is a monthly survey of approximately 140,000 nonfarm businesses and government agencies representing approximately 440,000 individual worksites. For more information on the program’s concepts and methodology, see “Technical Notes to Establishment Survey Data” at www.bls.gov//web/empsit/cestn2.htm. CES data are available at www.bls.gov/ces/. The CES data used in this article are seasonally adjusted.
2 Recessions are identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). According to the NBER, the most recent recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. The previous two recessions were from March 2001 to November 2001 and from July 1990 to March 1991. For a complete list of business cycle dates, consult the NBER webpage at www.nber.org/cycles/cyclesmain.html (visited Nov. 2, 2010).
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