Manufacturing and retail were the sectors that hemorrhaged the most jobs over the last two years.
But now, both are perking up, according to the ADP employment report for April; the report singled out manufacturing as an especially positive area of the economy, with 29,000 of the 50,000 new jobs in those two sectors.
“Manufacturing’s good numbers are going to be a shining light,” said Michael Gurka of Neural Markets. “It’s been fueled by inventory draw downs,” he acknowledged, but added that he sees sustainable momentum in that sector.
In addition to the ADP figures, Tuesday’s ISM Manufacturing Hiring Index showed the fifth month of added jobs. Even Ford has begun to call back workers due to demand for their cars.
The ADP report is a runnup to Friday's unemployment figures for April. The consensus estimate is that employers added 175,000 workers last month, continuing the trend of gradual improvement in the jobs picture.
Although manufacturing is far from being at full-throttle hiring, “We’re seeing the end of bleeding,” said ConvergEx’s Nicholas Colas. “Companies have stopped firing.”
Gurka said the movement in manufacturing leads him to believe that U.S. employers are about to resume hiring in the beleaguered construction industry, as well. He also expects to see more demand for construction goods.
Construction continues to lose jobs, however: That sector was down 49,000 jobs last month, according to ADP.
On the retail front, the positive news is that shoppers have started going back to the malls; companies are responding by hiring. According to Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, retail layoffs were at a nine-year low in April.
Retail analyst Dana Telsey of the Telsey Group predicts the most robust retail growth will be in top-line retailers, such as Saks, Tiffany and Coach.
In spite of the run-up in retail names, added Telsey, the second quarter, which is seasonally weak, presents an investment opportunity, because better performance will come in the second half of the year.