According to the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Monday Economic Report for this week, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 311,000 in February, slowing from 504,000 in January. The labor force participation rate inched up from 62.4% in January to 62.5% in February, its best rate since March 2020 but continues to remain below pre-pandemic readings.

Manufacturing employment declined by 4,000 in February, decreasing for the first time since April 2021. Hiring in the nondurable goods sector also fell by 4,000 in February, with durable goods hiring flat for the month. Despite pulling back, there were 12,983,000 workers in February, just shy of January’s reading – the best since November 2008.

In February, the largest increases in manufacturing employment occurred in computer and electronic products (+2,800), chemicals (+2,500), miscellaneous nondurable goods manufacturing (+1,900), nonmetallic mineral products (+1,500), transportation equipment (+1,300) and petroleum and coal products (+1,000), among others. In contrast, the biggest employment declines in the sector for the month occurred in plastics and rubber products (-4,700), furniture and related products (-2,800), textile mills (-1,700) and apparel (-1,300).

On a YoY basis, the strongest growth over the past 12 months occurred in the following manufacturing sectors: transportation equipment (+112,700, including 75,400 from motor vehicles and parts), food manufacturing (+49,400), machinery (+34,500), fabricated metal products (+32,300), computer and electronic products (+29,300) and chemicals (+26,900), among others.