Tuesday, 5 May 2009

US hours worked in manufacturing down over 5 percent

There is always an understandable focus on unemployment numbers. In any recession, this is where the true misery lies. However, the average number of hours worked can also provide some interesting insights into the timing and the depth of an economic slowdown.

The chart above illustrates recent trends in hours worked in US manufacturing. It peaked in the autumn of 2007. The following nine months, the number began to slowly decline. However, after the Lehman crash the number of hours worked crashed. In the first quarter of 2008, US manufacturing employees are working five percent fewer hours than they did back in the summer of 2007.

If we ignore productivity growth, this will reduce output by approximately the same amount. If we add to this decline the number of manufacturing jobs lost, then we begin to get a fuller picture of the dramatic collapse in US manufacturing output.

Perhaps more importantly, recent data shows absolutely no sign of turning around. The number of hours worked in manufacturing continues to decline sharply.


Josh said...

The only way is down.

AntiCitizenOne said...

The rise is debt for consumption has in the past masked the problems that taxes on working, employment and profit creation have caused.

Now that's stopped, reality is asserting itself.

Ullrakesh said...

Nice find Alice.

As mentioned above, consumption based on realistic demand (which has debt financed purchases removed) will need less production.

As debt purchases are not likely to return any time soon, and hopefully never at the August 2007 destructive levels, this decline in manufacturing is for the long term.

The west needs to accept that jobs based on production are gone and are not coming back.

This will of course change if sub-prime lending and CDS's are reintroduced. Given that politicians want banks to lend as they use to again, this may come to pass.