Tue May 9, 2017

By Perc Pineda, PLASTICS Chief Economist

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported last week that the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in April, a larger figure than many analysts expected. Employment in plastics experienced a very minor decline in April but according to Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) Chief Economist Perc Pineda, the industry’s employment outlook is strong and the positive jobs report bodes well for consumer demand.

The April jobs report from BLS shows the U.S. economy continues to expand. Since January, the economy added 738,000 jobs. The unemployment rate in April was 4.4 percent—well within the Federal Reserve Board members’ unemployment rate forecast for 2017 which projected unemployment figures to remain between 4.4 and 4.7 percent.

Leisure and hospitality, health care and professional and business services sectors added the most jobs in April. Other industries critical to the plastics trade, such as housing and automotive, also posted job gains. Jobs in construction and manufacturing rose 0.07 percent and 0.05 percent, respectively, in April.  Manufacturing jobs, particularly motor vehicles and parts, increased 0.30 percent, and jobs in food manufacturing rose 0.60 percent. Year-over-year construction jobs went up 2.6 percent and manufacturing jobs went up 0.32 percent. Jobs in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing increased 0.25 percent from the same period a year ago.

Although hiring in the plastics industry (and rubber products) fell marginally by 0.04 percent in April, it was up 0.23 percent from April last year. While the year-over-year increase was modest, the underlying trend of employment in the plastics industry remains positive. The broad-based improvements in the labor markets in April suggest that the expected demand for goods and services in the economy is on a stable path and will generate steady demand for plastics products moving forward.