If you didn’t receive this week’s "Fabricating Update," you missed some promising numbers about the economic recovery and manufacturing jobs. Have no fear; I'm repeating them here, because they are worth repeating:
The U.S. added 290,000 jobs in April, the largest monthly total since March 2006. Manufacturing added 44,000 of these jobs, the most jobs added in a single month in this sector since 1998.
Of the 101,000 manufacturing jobs added since December 2009, fabricated metal products, machinery, and primary metals have accounted for more than half.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM) Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) survey for May 2010, hiring activity in the manufacturing sector will increase significantly in May compared with a year ago. The 54.5 percent of manufacturers that will add jobs in May is the highest percentage since October 2007.
The numbers are encouraging, as are reports that some business owners, growing more confident about a sustainable recovery, are beginning to hire. The news is so encouraging that many long-time unemployed who had given up looking for jobs have resumed searching.
It's "Fabricating Update"'s practice not only to report the latest news, but to ask readers if the reports are in line with what they are experiencing. We want to hear from fabricators what's happening in the metal fabricating industry relative to what's being reported.
The newsletter asked: Do you have more confidence in a sustainable recovery? Are you hiring? If you are unemployed and have given up looking, are you ready to resume your search with renewed confidence that you'll find a job?
A reader who works for a Pennsylvania fabrication company wrote, "We've been able to call back 26 welders and fabricators from lay-off due to new orders placed in January, February, and March. While we continue to see RFQs for new equipment later in the year, we are cautious about additional call backs at this time.
“The Marcellus Gas Exploration in the eastern portion of the United States is driving a large portion of our business, and our hope is that this will continue for the next few years while other industries we rely on for orders make their recoveries."
A reader from a Midwestern company that specializes in tube fabrication said, "We have seen a steady increase of orders over the last three months. While the total number of orders is up, the quantity of parts is slightly down but increasing. We employ 85 people at our facility and have just put our production crew on a 45-hour work week, which was our normal week prior to the slow down. We have also hired six new employees to meet the increased workload.
"I feel that things are definitely headed in the right direction. We have quoted a large amount of new work recently and are looking forward to that work coming our way."
Not all respondents were as high on the recovery and job prospects, but most remain hopeful. An engineering supervisor from a Massachusetts-based company wrote, "We are a small manufacturing facility, and we have had to reduce our hours from 30 down to 25 hours/week. We had 50 employees, and we are now down to 30 with some part time workers. We are still not seeing any positive growth. We are trying to stay hopeful and think positive."
An individual who started his own fabricating company in Virginia wrote, "I have been laid off over 14 months, and I do not foresee gainful employment in the future. That is why I have been focusing on filling the need for qualified subcontractors to fill the small job order sector.
"My new degree in CADD design and manufacturing doesn't hurt, either. Now, [it's a matter of] just convincing a company to give us a chance to prove that it is more profitable and efficient to outsource maintenance and small manufacturing tasks."
A career services director for a welding school answered the questions from a slightly different perspective: "Our school is doing very well and enrollment is at maximum capacity. In fact, we are opening a satellite school just down the street to meet enrollment demands. Being in the career service department, I have noticed a definite but slow increase in the manufacturing sector. I deal with many companies on a daily basis in my search for employment for the graduating students. I find that most companies are a little hesitant about moving forward too fast in their growth.
"With the summer months upon us things will get better. I hope employment growth is high enough to offset the slowdown that fall and winter will bring on. I’m optimistic about the economy in our great country and looking forward to a gradual but positive recovery. We must all stick together and work for the same cause."
In the spirit of sticking together and working for the same cause, if you have work for our Virginia reader, e-mail me your contact information – email@example.com – and I'll pass it along.
Follow fabcomlady on Twitter.
Become a fan of The Fabricator® on Facebook.