After rebounding from a devastating recession, the U.S. economy looks to be reaching an unexpected peak, at least according to manufacturing executives. It seems that industry leaders are feeling more optimistic about economic trends than at any point in about 10 years. Specifically, the April 2014 Manufacturing Barometer reported that of those interviewed, 76 percent of senior executives from large, multinational industrial manufacturers responded to the survey expecting to see an overall positive impact on the national economy over the coming year.
This positive outlook is an eight percent increase over last year’s poll, which is no small feat. In fact, it is the highest level of optimism since the end of 2005. With domestic manufacturing seemingly making a comeback, this all bodes well for the industry at large.
Of those executives polled in the Manufacturing Barometer survey, 83 percent noted that their companies had plans to increase spending. That’s the highest level of expected growth in increased spending in over two years. These manufacturing executives are anticipating the development of new products and services, as well as new research to continue the upward trajectory. Information technology is also expected to be a key source of industry growth and renewal in the future.
There has been a shift in how the country views domestic industrial manufacturing. More and more consumers and companies are interested in buying local, or claiming their products are 100 percent made in America. That positive outlook has a significant impact on the manufacturing industry as a whole, because less and less we will see outsourcing of key manufacturing jobs in search of cheaper parts and labor.
Another influencing factor on this cultural shift is the waning prospects of the global economy. With significant financial obstacles being dealt with abroad in countries such as Greece and even China, home-grown manufacturing has a renewed appeal. While the overall expression of optimism within the domestic setting was clear in the report, it also became clear that fewer companies are expecting to expand into new markets abroad.
The strength of the U.S. dollar is another influencing factor. Many respondents expressed concern that the strength of U.S. currency will have a negative effect on foreign trade. A strong dollar means companies get less capital due to the exchange rate, and also that competition will be strong within the global market.
A lack of qualified manufacturing workers also appeared to be of concern for respondents. As many manufacturing workers come to retirement age, it appears to be difficult to train and recruit new employees with the proper skill sets to effectively replace them. Interestingly enough, as the demand for technically skilled workers increases, interest in these jobs will also increase over time. Training programs and degree tracks specializing in today’s high tech manufacturing skills are becoming more and more available to trainees and students interested in carving a niche for themselves. Overall, the future looks bright for U.S. manufacturing.
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