01222019Tue
Last updateTue, 22 Jan 2019 8pm

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U.S. Added 312,000 Jobs in December

Employment increased by 312,000 in December, and the unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. Job gains occurred in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December. Most of the gain occurred in the durable goods component (+19,000), with job growth in fabricated metal products (+7,000) and in computer and electronic products (+4,000). Employment in the nondurable goods component also increased over the month (+13,000). Manufacturing employment increased by 284,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the gain in durable goods industries. Manufacturing had added 207,000 jobs in 2017. 


Consumer Confidence Declined in December

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in December, following a modest decline in November. The Index now stands at 128.1, down from 136.4 in November.

“Consumer Confidence decreased in December, following a moderate decline in November,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations regarding job prospects and business conditions weakened, but still suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the short-term. While consumers are ending 2018 on a strong note, back-to-back declines in Expectations are reflective of an increasing concern that the pace of economic growth will begin moderating in the first half of 2019.” 

China Factory Activity Shrank for First Time in Over Two Years

In December, factory activity in China contracted for the first time since 2016, “highlighting the challenges facing Beijing as it seeks to end a bruising trade war with Washington and reduce the risk of a sharper economic slowdown in 2019,” Reuters reports.

“The increasing strain on factories signals a continued loss of momentum in China, adding to worries about softening global growth, especially if the Sino-U.S. dispute drags on.” 

Texas Manufacturing Expands Modestly, Outlook Worsens

Texas factory activity continued to expand rather modestly in December, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, inched down one point to 7.3. Perceptions of broader business conditions turned slightly negative in December.

Other indexes of manufacturing activity also suggested modest growth in December, although demand growth picked up a bit. The capacity utilization index fell from 9.4 to 7.6, and the shipments index dipped to 6.1. Meanwhile, the new orders index moved up five points to 14.4, and the growth rate of new orders index edged up to 5.8. 

Durable Goods Orders Back Up in November

New orders for manufactured durable goods in November increased $1.9 billion or 0.8% to $250.8 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up following two consecutive monthly decreases, followed a 4.3% October decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.3%. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 0.1%. Transportation equipment, up three of the last four months, drove the increase, $2.5 billion or 2.9% to $87.0 billion. 

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