April 11, 2000
Historically, both employment and overtime of production workers in manufacturing have increased as the economy emerged from recession. From March 1991 to January 1998, the number of factory production workers increased by 601,000 and the full-time equivalent of the increase in total factory overtime was 571,000 jobs.
The two subdivisions of manufacturing, however, displayed wildly different patterns. Among durable goods manufacturers, there was a gain of 722,000 production workers and an additional full-time equivalent (FTE) growth of 443,000 jobs. All the major durable goods industries except instruments and related products experienced growth in both workers and overtime FTEs.
Among the ten major nondurable goods industries, only three (food, paper, and rubber and plastics) displayed such a pattern. In fact, among nondurable goods factories overall, there was a small decline in production worker employment that was offset by a relatively modest increase in full-time equivalent growth in overtime. The most distinctive examples of this model were in apparel and textiles.
These data are a product of the Current Employment Statistics program. Full-time equivalents are computed by taking a total number of overtime hours and dividing it by 40, the number of hours in a "standard" workweek. To find out more, see "Analyzing the recent upward surge in overtime hours," by Ron L. Hetrick, Monthly Labor Review, February 2000.