NC Today and What It Means: Manufacturing Hours Worked

The NC Today dashboard serves as a monthly update on statewide labor market and economic conditions. But what do the numbers mean? Using the April 2022 update, this blog post continues the prior series and provides context to manufacturing hours worked.

Author: Chi Wong

Source: Current Employment Statistics, not seasonally adjusted  

Manufacturing hours worked measures the average number of hours per week worked by those in the manufacturing sector. This is typically considered a leading indicator of economic growth, although less of a predictor over the past three decades than it had been historically. The manufacturing sector is particularly important to follow because of its size in North Carolina and manufactured products are an input to many other industries (wholesale, retail, transportation, etc.)  Firms overall tend to adjust hours worked before hiring or firing workers. That is, when firms feel optimistic about economic conditions, they ask existing workers to take on more hours before eventually hiring more staff; when firms feel pessimistic, they reduce employee hours before letting people go. In April 2022, average weekly manufacturing hours worked was 42.4, which falls in the upper end of the distribution of values and exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

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