2018 Is Manufacturers’ Most Optimistic Year


2018 Is Manufacturers’ Most Optimistic Year

INPUT by National Manufacturers Association | December 20, 2018

The results of the NAM’s fourth-quarter Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey are in: manufacturers were more optimistic in 2018 than in any year since the survey began two decades ago.

But meanwhile, they are still deeply concerned about the lack of skilled workers, and rightfully so. As the recent Deloitte/Manufacturing Institute study shows, within a decade, the industry could have 2.4 million unfilled jobs due to this shortage.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • The majority of manufacturers (88.7 percent) have a positive outlook of their businesses, putting the average for 2018 at 92.4 percent—the highest annual average in the survey’s 20-year history.
  • Optimism among small manufacturers remained high at 87.9 percent.
  • Manufacturers expect strong growth rates in employee wages (2.3 percent), capital investments (2.6 percent) and sales (4.3 percent) over the next 12 months.

As for manufacturers’ concerns:

  • Attracting and retaining a quality workforce remained manufacturers’ top concern (68.2 percent).
  • More than one in four manufacturers has turned down new business opportunities due to this shortage of workers.
  • Increased raw material costs and trade uncertainties marked the second- and third-largest challenges for manufacturers, at 65.1 percent and 60.4 percent, respectively.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons commented, “This year was one for the record books . . . Empowered by tax reform and regulatory certainty, manufacturers are keeping our promise to expand our operations, hire new workers and raise wages and benefits.”