The growth in hours is a clear indication that manufacturing firms are working their existing employees longer hours, even though these key employers haven't increased headcounts much over the past year. Seasonally adjusted manufacturing employment is up 2,700 jobs, or 1.6 percent, in the 12 months ending in September.
Smoothing out the weekly hours figures shows that the manufacturing workweek continued to ramp upward over the past three years. By September, the 12-month average reached 40.2 for production workers and 39.6 for all employees within manufacturing. Both figures were at or near their post-recession highs. For production workers, the workweek is now back to the pre-recession metric, while for all manufacturing workers, average weekly hours are within a few tenths of an hour from those pre-recession levels.