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Job vacancies in manufacturing fell to the lowest level since 2020, mirroring the gradual slowdown in overall U.S. labor market, according to the latest data released this week by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) preliminary report showed 516,000 open manufacturing positions in April, down from 546,000 in March. This represents a decline of 5.5% for the month and a 20% year-over-year decline from April 2023 when there were 647,000 open manufacturing jobs. 

Nevertheless, industry experts said this week that the number of manufacturing job vacancies remains too high. 

“Manufacturing continues to have a gap of over 500,000 open jobs, which is still elevated above pre-pandemic levels—and this makes it harder for companies to compete,” said Manufacturing Institute (MI) President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee. 

In comparison, between 2017 to 2019 the manufacturing industry averaged 432,000 job openings per month, according to the Manufacturing Institute, the nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. 

Meanwhile, separations — quits, layoffs, discharges and other severance of employment — in manufacturing rose to 385,000 in April from 332,000 in March. That’s the highest since last August. 

According to the JOLTS report, the U.S. labor market overall had 8.06 million open positions in April, compared to the downwardly revised 8.36 million reading in March. 

 Job openings declined significantly from March to April in healthcare and social assistance (-204,000) and in state and local government education (-59,000) but increased in private educational services (+50,000).  

The leisure and hospitality industry had fewer jobs (-109,000) available in April compared to the month prior, as did the accommodation and food service industry (-97,000).