Despite the slow overall recovery, the factory jobs picture in February was as strong as it’s been in any month since 1973.
It’s possible that January’s massive storms led to more hiring in February due to pent-up demand. But company managers say, and data show, that hiring is on the rise in the manufacturing sector.
Nationally, the Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report said 56 percent of factories were keeping employment level, and 35 percent added people to their staffs in February. Those kinds of readings have not been seen in 38 years.
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“U.S. manufacturing is booming” and helps explain why stock investors shouldn’t panic over Japan’s nuclear disaster or the Middle East’s conflicts, according to Edward Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research Inc.
Growth has been “surprisingly robust” and may be accelerating, Yardeni wrote today in a report. He cited the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s factory index for March, which showed the fastest expansion since 1984. The indicator for eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware climbed to 43.4 from 35.9 in February.
In February, the ISM index rose to 61.4, matching its highest level since 1983. Readings greater than 50 point to expansion. The indicator has risen for seven straight months.
“It is becoming increasingly obvious” that U.S. factories are taking part in a global manufacturing surge that includes countries such as Germany and South Korea, Yardeni wrote.
The growth is among a dozen reasons not to panic over what’s happening in Japan and the Mideast, the report said. Others include “super-normal” earnings growth, a rebound in employment, a pickup in takeovers and “extremely stimulative” fiscal and monetary policy.