Manufacturers’ Optimism is at a 20-Year High

Last month, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released its first Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey since President Trump took office, which showed more than 93 percent of our nation’s manufacturers feel positively about their company’s economic outlook. Over the course of the survey’s 20 year history, never has optimism among large and small manufacturers been this high. Just last year, only 56.6 percent of manufacturers felt positively about their economic outlook and in December that same sentiment was just 77.8 percent, indicating a dramatic shift in disposition.

Additionally, results showed that manufacturers’ concerns over the current business environment have minimized, as they no longer identify business environment as the main challenge facing the industry -the first time it hasn’t taken the top spot since the question was added in 2011. In analyzing the survey results, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons attributed this shift in confidence to the Trump Administration’s focus on manufacturing and regulatory reform. “As the survey shows, manufacturers of all sizes are now less concerned about the business climate going forward because they are counting on President Trump to deliver results. Small manufacturers—more than 90 percent of our membership—are among the hardest hit by regulatory obstacles. Regulatory costs for small manufacturers with fewer than 50 employees total almost $35,000 per employee per year—money that could otherwise go to creating jobs. It’s encouraging to see an administration so focused on providing regulatory relief to spur manufacturing growth,” said Timmons.

While President Trump has maintained a focus on the manufacturing industry, inviting small and medium manufacturers to the White House and visiting a Wisconsin manufacturer this week, he has made one notable decision that does not serve to bolster manufacturing across the country.  President Trump’s proposed budget cut the valuable Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, despite urging from NAM and nearly 40 organizations representing manufacturers and their employees, including the NC Chamber, to continue its funding. The MEP is the only public-private partnership that serves small and medium-sized manufacturers, helping them create jobs and strengthen competitiveness through technology-based services. Although the President’s budget defunded the program, the same letter was shared with the appropriate congressional subcommittees to illustrate the breadth of support for preserving the MEP as they draft the appropriations bill.

The optimism expressed by our nation’s large and small manufacturers is encouraging, which is why we must continue advancing key priorities that keep our manufacturing industry on the cutting-edge of innovation and technology development. Strengthening the innovative leadership of our nation’s manufacturers is necessary in order for North Carolina and our country to remain competitive.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber

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