Last updateFri, 23 Jun 2017 4pm


NAM Survey Shows Increasingly Positive Outlook in 2017

New results from the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook survey show manufacturers’ optimism rose to a new all-time high in the survey’s nearly 20-year history. In this latest survey, 93.3% of manufacturers are either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook, up from 56.6% one year ago and 77.8% in December. As a result, the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Index also soared to a new high, up from 53.1 in December to 63.7 in this report. It was the second straight quarter where the outlook exceeded its historic average – which would equate to 50 in the index – and there were strong gains in confidence for all firm sizes. 

Manufacturers’ Slow, but Steady Migration to the Cloud

“While businesses of all types make a steady march to the cloud, manufacturers are pursuing a hybrid strategy, opting to retain some foundational plant-floor systems on premise while earmarking analytics and production applications for migration to the new environment,” writes Beth Stackpole, a contributing writer for Automation World.

“Similar to mainstream productivity applications, the cloud promises a host of benefits for certain manufacturing platforms. Easier collaboration across multiple plant sites, unlimited capacity and scalability—particularly for peak cycles—and, in some instances, reduced costs are the primary benefits building a case for cloud migration, experts say. At the same time, ease of deployment and ongoing maintenance of systems is another big upside given that most cloud-based systems are quicker to deploy and easier to learn, and don’t require a dedicated staff or hardware resources to keep up and running.” 

U.S. Has Near Record High Number of Job Openings

“Employers are hiring and workers are starting to feel more confident about leaving a job for another one. It's reflects a much improved situation from the Great Recession.”

The bad news, according to CNN Money, is that “[n]ot all employers can find the skilled workers they need. Experts say that such a high number of job openings is due partially to a gap between the job skills employers demand and the skills job seekers have.” 

Manufacturing Technology Orders Continue to Make Gains

Manufacturing technology orders continued to make gains in March, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report from The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). Orders were up 34.8% compared to February, and up 3.3% compared to March 2016.

Leading indicators show that promising gains for manufacturing are likely to continue. Consumer sentiment is on the rise, which will lead to more purchases of durable goods like cars, appliances, electronics, and housing. Cutting tool shipments have grown, a marker of increased productivity. Machine shop spending for capital equipment has also been on the rise, indicating that manufacturers are using their services for excess capacity. 

Construction Spending Loses Steam in April

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 5.1% in April to 133.8 from its revised March reading of 140.9. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. April’s decline was due to a 12.0% drop for the institutional component of the Momentum Index, while the commercial component rose a meager 0.1%. Since early 2016, the Momentum Index has gained substantial ground, albeit in a saw-tooth pattern, increasing by over 20% through March this year. Despite April’s decline, the broad upward trend for the Momentum Index remains present, suggesting that construction activity still has further room to grow in 2017. The planning data’s strengthening over the past year stands in stark contrast to the 2014-2015 period, when the Momentum Index saw little improvement, gaining just 4.0% in that 24-month span. 

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