While Optimistic about Economy, Manufacturers See Washington as Roadblock

Manufacturers plan to increase spending, hiring over next 12 months.

With an annual GDP growth rate of around 3%, manufacturers are seeing signs that 2014 might finally be the year the economy gains some traction. However there are still some issues that need to be tackled according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers.

The top business challenge, cited by 79.0% of those taking the survey, was an unfavorable business climate due to taxes, regulations and government uncertainties. Rising health care and insurance costs ranked second (77.1%), with the issue hovering near the top of this list for much of the past year and a half due to uncertainties surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The numbers clearly show that Washington continues to be the major source of the burdens facing manufacturers.

In general,  even with the softer data of late, manufacturers remain mostly upbeat about sales and production for the coming months. Weather-related weaknesses are temporary, and the sector grew strongly in the second half of 2013, providing some momentum for this year. Indeed, 86.1% of respondents were either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook.

This was the fifth consecutive quarter of acceleration in manufacturer confidence, rebounding since the fiscal cliff debate of late 2012. The outlook figure was up from 78.1% last quarter, with those saying they were somewhat positive rising from 65.9% in December to 72.3% in March, the biggest difference between the two surveys

Read more about the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers on IndustryWeek.

IndustryWeek is an NED companion site within Penton’s Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

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