What are Average Weekly Hours, Manufacturing?
This data series measures an average of the number of hours worked per week by production workers in U.S. manufacturing industries. Average weekly hours worked in manufacturing ("hours worked") is an element of the Index of Leading Economic Indicators, produced by the Conference Board to provide an indication of the future direction of the U.S. economy. To understand why hours worked is considered a leading economic indicator, consider how many employers respond to the business cycle. If the economy is just beginning to grow out of a recession, businesses will tend to hold off on hiring new workers until they are more confident that economic growth is improving, and will instead ask their existing workers to work more hours. As the economy continues to improve, eventually businesses will be forced to add more workers, and this increase in employment will reinforce the positive trend in economic growth. In contrast, if the economy is just beginning to slow down, employers wishing to maintain employee loyalty will try to keep their workers by reducing hours worked, rather than immediately laying-off workers. If the slowdown deepens into a recession, then eventually businesses are forced to lay off workers, which reinforces the negative trend in economic growth. Thus hours worked is thought to be a leading indicator of future change in the economy.
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