Compared to job market improvements of early 2012, employment increases through 2013 are spread slightly less evenly across industries. For the second half of 2013, though, gains in employment are increasingly spread across a variety of manufacturing industries.
To quantify how widespread job gains or losses are, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses a diffusion index. This is a composite series based on employment gains or losses across 81 manufacturing industries. Industries that lost jobs for the month are assigned a value of zero, industries that gained jobs are assigned 100, and industries with no change are assigned 50. So if the diffusion index for the month is 0, that means employment across all 81 industries shrunk. If all 81 industries added jobs, the diffusion index would be 100.
The employment diffusion indexes are less widely cited than total employment or total job gains/losses, but for equipment suppliers with a diversified customer base the manufacturing employment diffusion index is a useful tool for quickly surveying whether economic strength or weakness is widespread or highly concentrated in a particular industry.
To download this data, go to http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/srgate and enter series ID CES3000000021. Employment data come are summarized in the BLS’s Employment Situation release, which you can find data for at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.b.htm.