Manufacturers Optimistic for The Future

JANUARY 3, 2018

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) 2017 Fourth Quarter Outlook Survey showed that nearly 95 percent of manufacturers have a positive economic outlook, which is a record high for the 20 year-old survey.

“It is important to recognize that many manufacturing businesses, including ILMA members, are family-based, so it is great news that so many companies are optimistic about the coming year, said ILMA CEO Holly Alfano. “Along with the new tax reform law, statistics citing high stock market returns, job creation data, and other strong economic indicators are all encouraging signs for ILMA members whose products keep the economy moving and growing.”

Beyond the high optimism from manufacturers of all sizes, the NAM survey revealed:

  • Respondents predict sales growth of 5.2 percent over the next year, up from 4.5 percent in the previous survey.
  • More than 56 percent say their sales will rise by at least five percent over the next 12 months.
  • Capital investments are anticipated to grow 3.4 percent over the next 12 months, up from 2.7 percent in September, reflecting business leaders’ increased confidence in the future.
  • Just over 38 percent of respondents predict capital expenditures will rise by at least five percent, with 21.3 percent predicting an increase of more than 10 percent.
  • Full-time employment is expected to rise 2.6 percent over the next year, up from 2.2 percent in the previous survey. This is just shy of the 2.7 percent pace recorded in June, which was the fastest rate in the survey’s history.
  • Nearly 62 percent of manufacturers anticipate an increase in employment over the next year, with 22.8 percent predicting a jump of at least five percent.

Additionally, almost 50 percent of respondents stated their regulatory paperwork burdens had decreased under the Trump Administration, although nearly 73 percent of respondents indicated their biggest business challenge was attracting and retaining a quality workforce, an issue that affects many ILMA members. The Department of Labor intends to publish soon new draft rules for creating apprenticeship programs that will hopefully address that concern.