For the last 20 years the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has conducted the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey with the help of their over 14,000 large and small manufacturing members. The survey is conducted once a quarter to gain insight on manufacturers’ economic outlook, hiring and investment decisions, and business concerns. This year manufacturers reported record breaking optimism.
In the fourth quarter of 2018 there were 539 manufacturing companies who responded to the survey, which was conducted from November 28th to December 12th. The amount of responses from small, medium and large sized manufactures was nearly even, with a slight majority coming from medium sized companies.
The average percentage of respondents that were positive about their own company’s outlook was 92.4% in 2018, an all-time high. Manufacturers are also predicting positive growth rates in sales (4.3 percent), production (4.3 percent), capital investments (2.6 percent) and full-time employment (2.2 percent) over the next 12 months. Manufacturers are very optimistic about business conditions overall, which is likely influenced by their expectation of pro-growth policies like tax reform and regulatory certainty. You can view the full survey results here.
It was no surprise that the major concern of manufacturers was the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce. In the fourth quarter 68.2 percent of companies reported that this was their top concern. Other top concerns included the increasing cost of raw materials and trade uncertainties. According to government data there are now 522,000 open manufacturing jobs in America, which some manufacturers reported as the reason for turning down new business opportunities this year.
If this workforce crisis isn’t resolved the United States is on track to have as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2028. This challenge will continue to have an impact on manufacturing companies in the years to come. For now we are optimistically looking forward to 2019 and all of the growth that is to come.
Read the full article here.