Global manufacturing subdued, US adds 14m jobs in 73 months
The size of the US workforce rose 396,000 in March while 215,000 jobs were added with manufacturing losing 29,000. The private sector has now added 14.4m jobs over 73 straight months of job growth, the longest streak on record, and wage growth has accelerated over the past year. Meanwhile, the average PMI (purchasing managers' index) for global manufacturing during the opening quarter (50.4) was the weakest since the second quarter of 2013.
Over the past six months, the US labour force participation rate has increased by 0.6 percentage point, the largest six-month increase since 1992 — it is still at a 1978 low. Average hourly earnings for private employees increased by 7 cents in March, more than reversing their drop in February, and have grown 2.3% over the past year.
March global PMI data signalled that conditions in the global manufacturing sector remained subdued.
Although the headline index and those tracking output and new orders all edged higher, their respective levels were indicative of only mild growth at best. The JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers' index) – a composite index produced by JPMorgan and Markit — rose to 50.5 in March, up from the 50.0 posting that signalled stagnation in the prior month. Moreover, the average PMI reading during the opening quarter (50.4) was the weakest since the second quarter of 2013.
Markit said manufacturing production rose marginally in March, underpinned by a modest improvement in new order inflows. The trend in international trade flows deteriorated further, as highlighted by a second successive monthly decrease in new export orders.
National PMI data suggested that conditions remained lacklustre in the three main industrial regions covered by the survey. Manufacturing production was near-stagnant in Asia, as marginal increases in China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam were offset by contractions in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. India’s manufacturing upturn gathered momentum in March, with stronger inflows of new work leading firms to scale up output.
The Americas fared slightly better. Growth improved to a four-month high in Mexico, while output expanded in Canada following a seven-month sequence of contraction. The US eked out further production growth, although the rate of increase was unchanged from February’s 28- month low. The downturn in Brazil continued, although the pace of contraction slowed.
Output growth ticked higher in the Euro Area, recouping part of the momentum ceded in the prior survey month. Almost all of the Eurozone nations for which data are collected reported higher output in March. The sole exception was Greece. By sector, modest growth of production was signalled in the consumer, intermediate and investment goods sectors.
The sharper pace of increase was seen at consumer goods producers, while intermediate goods output rose following back-to-back contractions in January and February.