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Metals industry employment data mixed

Keywords: Tags  metals industry employment, metal producers, metal fabricators, manufacturing, Douglas Handler, IHS Global Insight, Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing government shutdown

CHICAGO — U.S. primary metal producers shed 600 jobs last month, partially offsetting a 3,000-job increase in August, while employment in the fabricated metal products sector rose by 2,400 workers in September after an increase of 2,000 the previous month, according to nonseasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Metal producers’ employment base was down 2 percent compared with the same month last year as companies reduced headcount by 7,900, while metal fabricators added 23,400 jobs in the same comparison, a 1.6-percent improvement.

Manufacturing employment fell 0.2 percent in September with the loss of 24,000 workers from the previous month, but the sector added 27,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

The overall unemployment rate in September was put at 7.2 percent, nearly unchanged from August but down from 7.8 percent a year earlier, with long-term unemployment declining by 725,000 over the past year.

"This report showed the economy in a mediocre condition just prior to the (federal government) shutdown (and) solidified a real GDP (gross domestic product) growth forecast below 2 percent for the third quarter," Douglas Handler, chief U.S. economist for Lexington, Mass.-based IHS Global Insight Inc., said. October’s job numbers should remain "so-so amid private sector employers’ concerns about hiring during the shutdown and possible debt ceiling spending restrictions."

"In manufacturing, we’ve been treading water for nearly 18 months now," Scott Paul, president of the Washington-based Alliance for American Manufacturing, said. "Private-sector job growth—and manufacturing in particular—is too weak to put the U.S. on a sound fiscal footing or to get the middle class back on track. The October numbers could be even worse."

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