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Metals employment falls in November

Keywords: Tags  unemployment rate, employment, metal producers, primary metals, metal fabricators, coal mining, manufacturing, Scott Paul Alliance for American Manufacturing

CHICAGO — Employment at U.S. metal producers and metal fabrication shops declined last month, although the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows employment within the two sectors has grown incrementally since last year.

The number of workers in the metal producer sector fell 2,200 in November, a 0.5-percent decline from the previous month, while fabricators employed 1,300 fewer workers, a 0.1-percent dip.

The manufacturing sector as a whole shed 40,000 jobs last month (not seasonally adjusted), a decline of 0.3 percent following the loss of 24,000 jobs in October.

Coal and mining outside of energy extraction employed 296,200 workers in November, down 2,100 from October and 12,500 lower than a year earlier.

Metal producers hired 4,600 more workers in the past year, a 1.1-percent increase, while metal fabricators hired 48,500 people in the same period, a 3.6-percent increase.

"I’m troubled by the stall we’ve seen in manufacturing job growth. Manufacturing unemployment (seasonally adjusted) has been essentially unchanged since May," Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said in a statement. "President Obama has laid out a goal of creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs in his second term. That won’t be easy to do if we are merely treading water."

The total seasonally adjusted addition of 146,000 jobs was better than expected, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for Lexington, Mass.-based consultancy IHS Global Insight Inc. But the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent for the "wrong" reasons, as both household employment and the size of the labor force declined, he said.

"The good news is not that the labor market is improving rapidly—it isn’t—but that employment growth is holding up despite all the fears over the fiscal cliff," Gault said, suggesting employment growth could accelerate in 2013.

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