MRO Magazine

US manufacturers’ outlook positive but rising health care costs and regulatory burdens remain concerns

Washington, DC – Manufacturers in the United States remain optimistic about their own companies in the last quarter of 2014, continuing an upward trend over the past two years, according to the latest National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers. Manufacturing leaders’ optimism contrasts sharply with continued frustration stemming from Washington gridlock, growing federal regulations, rising health care costs and uncertainty in global markets.

Key survey findings include the following:

  • 91.2% of respondents were either somewhat or very positive in their own company’s outlook, marking the fourth time since the survey began in 1997 that the measure has eclipsed 91%.
  • Manufacturers expect to hire more workers, increasing their employee levels over the next year by 2.1%, up from 1.9% in the last survey. They also expect sales to increase 4.5% over the next 12 months, the fastest pace in over two years.
  • 82.8% of respondents identified reducing the regulatory burden as the top policy for the 114th Congress.
  • 77.1% of respondents cite rising health care and insurance costs as their primary business challenge.
  • 83% of respondents said their health insurance premiums will increase by 5% or more in 2015, with 50.9% indicating their costs will increase by 10% or more.

“Manufacturers continue to create opportunities in the United States and are optimistic about the future,” said NAM chief economist Chad Moutray. “However, Washington gridlock, continued concern about the global economy and headwinds such as rising health care costs and regulatory burdens continue to loom large on manufacturers’ minds. As Washington prepares for the 114th Congress, manufacturers are counting on policymakers to focus on pro-growth measures that will keep the momentum going and foster continued economic growth.”

The NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers was conducted among the NAM’s membership of small, medium and large manufacturers.