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Employment in metals mixed in April

Keywords: Tags  employment statistics, metals producers, metals fabricators, manufacturing, Alan Tonelson, U.S. Business and Industry Council, Nariman Behravesh, IHS Global Insight Corinna Petry

CHICAGO — Employment in primary metals and the fabricated metals sector took different paths in April, with producers logging a dip while fabricators registered a gain.

Metals producers’ employment in April totaled 397,000, not seasonally adjusted, a drop of 400 jobs from the previous month and down 4,600 jobs year on year. Meanwhile, employment at fabricated metals product companies was just shy of 1.43 million in April, up 4,100 jobs vs. March and 29,500 jobs higher than in the same month last year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report pegged April’s overall unemployment rate at 7.5 percent, down from 7.6 percent in March.

Two bright spots were machinery manufacturing, which added 2,900 jobs month on month; and motor vehicles and parts, with 1,800 new hires.

The mining sector outside of oil and gas had 100 fewer jobs in April vs. March and lost 1,300 workers year on year.

The manufacturing sector has created slightly more net jobs in recent months than initially estimated, but American industry continues to trail the rest of the economy in employment gains as the recovery slowly proceeds, U.S. Business and Industry Council Educational Foundation research fellow Alan Tonelson said.

Tonelson suggested the administration halt the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, respond to currency manipulation, expand "Buy America" regulations on federal procurement and make other economic policy changes to aid a recovery.

April payrolls were better than expected, according to Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Lexington, Mass.-based IHS Global Insight Inc., noting that job gains suggest that there is no evidence yet of a sequester-induced slowdown in hiring.

However, a positive April report "does not materially change the view of IHS that both gross domestic product and jobs growth will slow in the coming months," he cautioned. The full impact of the sequester cuts has yet to be felt—such as in fewer hours worked if not outright head count reductions—"and things will likely get softer before improving."

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