Last updateWed, 24 May 2017 2pm


U.S. Economy Grew 0.7% in the First Quarter of 2017

Real GDP in the U.S. fell short of expectations, increasing at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first quarter of 2017; this according to the advance estimate just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The 0.7% figure, down from 2.1% in the fourth quarter and 3.5% in the second half of 2016, and is the slowest rate of growth in three years. Many economists expect more robust growth in the upcoming second quarter. 

Survey Shows Small Business Confidence Increasing

The second annual Allstate/ Small Business Barometer finds increasing optimism and innovation among small business owners, despite the rising cost of doing business. Nine in 10 local entrepreneurs say the benefits of owning a business outweigh the challenges. This year’s Barometer found that, in addition to being more optimistic compared to the first year’s report, in 2017 small business owners are also experiencing increasing sales, revenue and hiring.

The 2017 Allstate/ Small Business Barometer produced an overall score of 58 for the country’s small business sector, which rates as “solid” on the Barometer’s 0-100 scale. The score is a slight decrease from 2016’s release (61), with the two most significant changes coming in optimism and commodities – up 13 and down 37 points respectively, compared to last year’s Barometer. 

Durable Goods Orders Up 0.7% in March

New orders for manufactured durable goods in March increased $1.6 billion or 0.7% to $238.7 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced today. Economists were anticipating an increase of 1.2%. This March increase, the third consecutive, followed a 2.3% February increase.

Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.2%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.1%. Transportation equipment, also up three consecutive months, drove the increase, $2.0 billion or 2.4% to $83.3 billion. 

Texas Manufacturing Expansion Continued in April

Texas factory activity increased for the 10th consecutive month in April, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, moved down three points to 15.4, suggesting output growth continued but at a slightly slower pace this month. Perceptions of broader business conditions improved again.

Other measures of current manufacturing activity also indicated continued expansion in April. The survey’s demand indicators saw upward movement, with the new orders and growth rate of orders indexes edging up to 11.5 and 5.1, respectively. The shipments index also moved up, rising three points to 9.5. The capacity utilization index fell slightly but stayed positive for a 10th month in a row, coming in at 11.5. 

Are Women the Key to Closing U.S. Skills Gap?

The Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and APICS have just released, “Women in Manufacturing: Stepping up to make an impact that matters.” The joint study is the result of more than 600 survey responses from women professionals in the manufacturing industry, along with nearly 20 manufacturing executive interviews. The insights point to how companies can effectively recruit, retain and advance talented women in manufacturing, and illustrates ways that women in manufacturing are making an impact in the industry.

This study confirms the importance of increasing the amount of women in the manufacturing workforce and that many manufacturers are missing a critical talent pool, which could aid in closing the skills gap

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