Manufacturing, Women & Labor Pain

It was encouraging to see solid gains in manufacturing & construction in the most recent payroll numbers, occupations listed as more stable, and therefore safer. Back in spring the idea was to get such work rolling again, while skipping the stop at a bar on the way home. We’re hitting the reset button on that.

That may help get the pandemic under control, but it is going to hurt minority workers, as shown in Friday’s jobs report. The Household survey is jumpy, but the number of employed men rose, while the number of employed women fell. Within that both White and Black men gained jobs, as did White women, but Black women lost jobs, as did both sets of Latinx workers, and Asians, not broken out by sex. Gains were large enough to lift employment-population ratios for White women and Black men, while losses were enough to cause declines for Black women, Asians, and for Latinx men and women.

In 2019 women held 29% of manufacturing jobs and, within that, 39% of medical manufacturing and animal processing, 46% of sporting goods & toy manufacturing, and a little over half of textile manufacturing. Asian workers had a 7% share, but 29% of computer equipment; Blacks, 10%, and close to 20% of auto and pulp manufacturing; and Latinx, 17%, including 40% of fruit and vegetable preservation. Both Black and Latinx workers have close to 20% share in tire manufacturing, and 22% and 35% shares in animal processing plants.

Manufacturing employment is still down 4% over the year, less than overall employment’s -6%. We sometimes include a graph of the three-month average of manufacturing withholding in a classic Midwestern state. Here’s what that looks like these days: