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U.S. Jobs Up, Canadian Jobs Down and Gigabuzz from Tesla Motors

Alex Carrick
U.S. Jobs Up, Canadian Jobs Down and Gigabuzz from Tesla Motors

The U.S. economy recorded a decent, if not spectacular, increase in total number of jobs in August, according to the latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There was a month-to-month net gain of 142,000. The nation’s unemployment rate declined by the smallest of notches, to 6.1% from 6.2% in July.

The year-to-date average employment gain after eight months has now fallen to 215,000, versus 226,000 through the first seven months of this year.

The total number of jobs in the U.S. economy is 2.5 million higher than a year ago.

Encouraging for our industry, construction was one of the sectors with a large jobs advance in August, +20,000. Most of the gain was at the level of specialty trade contractors, +11,500.

Construction’s unemployment rate, not seasonally adjusted (NSA), was 7.7%. A year ago, its level was 9.1%.

“Professional and business services” was another sector with a substantial jobs increase in August, +47,000. Since the Great Recession, this category has often received a boost from the hiring of temporary workers. The latest month (+13,000) was no exception.

As for “education and health care services”, employment in the former declined by 6,000 while in the latter, it surged ahead by 43,000.

The number of “leisure and hospitality” jobs rose by 15,000; but payrolls in retail trade declined by 8,000.

Staffing at all three levels of government stepped higher: federal (+3,000); state (+1,000); and local (+4,000).

What about manufacturing? August’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) jogged upward again, to a strong 59.0% from 57.1% in July.

Nevertheless, the level of total employment in manufacturing in the latest month didn’t budge.

As an interesting aside, the total number of jobs in manufacturing (12,158) is now almost exactly double what is being recorded for construction (6,068).

North of the border, August’s Labour Force Survey report from Statistics Canada records an 11,000 drop in the total number of jobs. The unemployment rate stayed flat at 7.0%.

While that’s not particularly good news, hopefully it can be relied on. If you’ll recall, quite the kerfuffle accompanied the release of the preceding month’s data.

July’s month-to-month employment picture was first reported as little changed. A week later – after admission of an error in collection methodology – the figure was revised to +41,000.

The construction industry in Canada added 24,000 jobs in August, while manufacturing scorched 11,000. The drop in manufacturing employment is a shocker. That sector is supposed to be receiving an export-sales boost from the lower-valued Canadian dollar.

An increase in hiring in the “professional, scientific and technical services” sector (+21,000) was more than offset but a decline in the “trade” (i.e., mainly retail) category (-27,000).

Regionally, Saskatchewan (4.2%) continued to record the lowest jobless rate in the country, followed by Alberta (4.9%).

Alberta has recorded an outsized year-over-year gain in employment compared with the other provinces. Its +38,000 jobs far exceeds second-place Quebec (+20,000) and third-place Ontario (+14,000).

As for the future of regional employment in the U.S., an announcement by Tesla Motors has just brightened Nevada’s outlook.

The Fremont California maker of electric-powered motor vehicles has made a decision about where it will locate a planned $5 billion battery-manufacturing plant.

The gigafactory ‒  a term devised to capture the enormity of scope ‒ will be required for what Tesla hopes will be a successful launch of a cheaper mass-market version (Model 3) of its luxury line.

The intention is to lower the cost of technologically-improved lithium-ion batteries through economies of scale.

The site that’s been picked is one of the largest industrial parks in the world. It’s located in Storey County on the edge of Reno.

Joint venture partner, Panasonic Corp., is expected to carry about one-third of the capital cost.

Once up and running, the plant will provide employment for 6,500 workers.

Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park is owned by Lance Gilman. Other major name brands that already have a presence there are Wal-Mart, Dell Computers and Toys R Us.

What’s interesting, however, is that Mr. Gilman has a sideline.

According to USA Today, he’s the owner of the world-famous and notorious Mustang Ranch/brothel in the state.

That’s pretty much a non-sequitur. I have no further comments to make on this subject.

Except that I feel as if I’ve just won a challenge.

“Alex, if you dare, try to find a sex angle for one or your typical articles about the economy, jobs and construction”.

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