Record optimism seen among manufacturing industry

The manufacturing industry is seeing its ninth consecutive quarter of record optimism, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

In its Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, NAM found that 89.5 percent of manufacturers feel positive about their own company’s outlook over the first quarter of 2019, significantly higher than the 68.9 percent average in 2015 and 2016.

“Manufacturing in the United States in on the rise, and manufacturers are confident about the future,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said. “Empowered by tax reform and regulatory certainty, manufacturers are investing in our communities and in our people.”

According to the survey, sales and production are expected to see a 4.4 percent growth over the next 12 months while full-time employment, employee wages, capital investments, and product prices are expected to increase by more than two percent.

The optimism is being felt “even more so” in Arizona said Dawn Grove, chairwoman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council and the Workforce Arizona Council.

“Arizona’s manufacturers have even more reason for optimism because Governor [Doug] Ducey and the Arizona legislature have created a positive climate for manufacturing growth and welcomed new manufacturers with open arms. They’ve understood the exponential growth manufacturing brings,” Grove added.

“To keep up this momentum, we have to get serious about infrastructure investment and attracting, recruiting and training our people for the high-tech, high-paying modern manufacturing jobs of today and tomorrow,” Timmons said.

While manufacturers have increased optimism, their concern regarding the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure” is also rising.

Earlier this year, NAM re-released its Building To Win proposal blueprinting how to revitalize infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rails, airports, ports and waterways.

“Every year, America is falling further behind on infrastructure. Today, infrastructure investment is only one-third of what it was in 1960 and without action…we will lose 5.8 million jobs by 2040,” Timmons said. “’Building to Win’ is our proposal to really supercharge investment in infrastructure.”

Manufacturers also listed the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce as a top business concern, with the workforce shortage forcing more than one in four manufacturers to turn down new business opportunities.

“Manufacturers are growing so rapidly, they are necessarily reaching out to new populations — hiring returning citizens, those with disabilities and many who have been out of the workforce for years,” Grove said. “Modern manufacturers are implementing advanced technologies, automation and robotics to improve quality, bolster safety and better compete globally, such that American manufacturing workers are becoming better skilled, more productive and receiving higher wages than ever before.”

Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) is working to address the attraction and retention concern by putting $10 million towards Career and Technical Education (CTE) in his fiscal year 2020 budget.

NAM’s survey was conducted by the association’s Chief Economist and surveys more than 14,000 large and small manufacturers on a quarterly basis to gain insight, for more information click here.

Emily Richardson

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