By Vicki Needham - 03/08/13 05:55 PM EST
Manufacturers also have cited the implementation of the healthcare law as creating further concern about ramping up hiring.
The sector averaged monthly gains of 13,000 last year, even though the growth contracted last summer before picking up pace again heading into this year.
"Even with this progress, we can’t help but hope to see better numbers with the manufacturing sector producing on all cylinders," Moutray said.
Last month, NAM CEO Jay Timmons said a reflection of strong growth would be having industrial production grow by 4.5 percent annually, manufacturers creating 20,000 jobs each month on average and gross domestic product increasing at least by 3.5 percent a year.
"Policymakers need to continue to focus on making the business environment as pro-growth as possible," Moutray said.
"Our manufacturers need policies to better compete globally. If that occurs, achieving an average job growth of 20,000 each month should be an easily obtainable goal."
The additional hiring also was consistent with increases in hours worked in manufacturing. The average number of hours in the workweek rose slightly to 40.9 hours from 40.7 hours, with increased activity in both durable and nondurable goods sectors.
Also, average overtime hours rose to 3.4 hours from 3.3 pushing up average weekly earnings to $986.10 from $978.43.