Last updateTue, 22 Jan 2019 8pm


NAM: 2018 is Manufacturers’ Most Optimistic Year

Manufacturers continued to report strong growth in activity, with the sector remaining one of the brightest spots in the economy. In the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 88.7% of respondents felt either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook, down from 92.5% in the third quarter. While that represents the second straight easing in confidence from the all-time high reading in the second quarter (95.1%), the four-quarter annual average, which reaches back to when congressional passage of tax reform appeared increasingly likely, shows that manufacturers’ optimism for 2018 reached the highest level on record in the 20-year history of the survey. On average this year, 92.4% of manufacturers surveyed reported a positive outlook for their companies (surpassing the 2017 average of 91.8%). 

Empire State Manufacturing Index Falls to 19 Month Low

Manufacturing firms in New York State reported that business activity continued to expand, though growth was noticeably slower than in recent months. The general business conditions index fell twelve points to 10.9. The share of respondents reporting that conditions had improved over the month dropped to 30%, an 11% decline from November, while 19% of respondents reported that conditions had worsened. 

Manufacturing Output Holds Steady in November

Industrial production rose 0.6% in November after moving down 0.2% in October. Manufacturing output was unchanged in November, as an increase of 0.2% for durable manufacturing was offset by decreases of 0.2% and 0.9% for nondurable manufacturing and other manufacturing, respectively. Within durable manufacturing, primary metals posted a gain of nearly 2.5%; no other major industry group recorded a gain of more than 0.5% and several recorded losses. 

Blue-Collar Workers are Now Scarcer than White-Collar

Reversing a decades-long trend in the U.S. jobs market, companies are now having a more difficult time finding blue-collar workers than white-collar workers. Conducted by The Conference Board, the new analysis forecasts that growing blue-collar labor shortages will continue in 2019 and beyond.

Between 2010-2018, fewer manufacturing jobs were offshored and less productivity growth from automation took place than in the previous decade. This combination has led to continuous demand for U.S. workers. 

ISM Survey: Manufacturers Wary, Still Expect Growth in 2019

Economic growth in the U.S. will continue in 2019, say the nation's purchasing and supply management executives in the December 2018 Semiannual Economic Forecast. Expectations are for a continuation of the growth that began in mid-2009, as indicated in the monthly ISM Report On Business.

Expectations in manufacturing for 2019 are positive, as 64% of ISM survey respondents expect revenues to be greater in 2019 than in 2018. The panel of purchasing and supply executives expects a 5.7% net increase in overall revenues for 2019, compared to a 5.1% increase predicted for 2018 over 2017 revenues. 

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