Computer and electronic product payrolls, which made up 18 percent of total durable manufacturing jobs in 1990 and have fallen to 13.6 percent in November, appear to be putting in a relative bottom. The electronics sector with respect to U.S. employment has been hit much harder than overall manufacturing as illustrated in the following chart.
Note the blue line is the monthly ratio of computer and electronic products payrolls versus total durable manufacturing payrolls. The data show that durable payrolls (red line) bottomed in February 2010 at 6.985 m and has increased to 8.060 m payrolls at the end of November, up 15 percent but still down 25 percent from 1990.
Computer and electronics payrolls bottomed in July 2017 at 1.035 m and up about 6 percent as of the end of November, but still down 44 percent since 1990.
Electronic payrolls are now outperforming durable manufacturing, up by a relative 2.6 percent over the past year. It’s too early to tell, and the numbers are not big, but it could be the result of shifting supply chains out of China.
Though hiring decisions are a coincident rather than leading indicator but do reflect growing confidence by firms in future business prospects.