#184 – Inside Our Industry – Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: Fourth Quarter 2023

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

The National Association of Manufacturers has released their 4th Quarter 2023 Manufacturer’s Outlook Survey. Below are their Key Findings. The italicized findings are our additions to the list.

Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: Fourth Quarter 2023

The National Association of Manufacturers Q4 2023 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey shows that small companies with fewer than 50 employees and medium-sized firms with between 50 and 499 employees, which make up a vast majority of the sector, continued to have historically lower levels of optimism with 65.9% and 63.0% positivity rates in Q4, respectively.

The NAM conducted the survey from November 14 to December 1, 2023.

Key Findings:

  • 89% of respondents said higher tax burdens on manufacturing activities would make it more difficult to expand their workforce, invest in new equipment or expand facilities.
  • Workforce challenges also continue to dominate the sector, with more than 71% of manufacturers citing the inability to attract and retain employees as their top primary challenge.
  • A weaker domestic economy and sales for manufactured products (63.7%), an unfavorable business climate (61.1%) and rising health care and insurance costs (59.8%) are also impacting manufacturing optimism.
  • Political dysfunction is a major concern for manufacturers. When asked about major trends of concern, nearly 8 out of 10 respondents (77.6%) listed political dysfunction as a major issue. Geopolitical turmoil (67.7%), economic recession (66.8%) and rising interest rates and the U.S. dollar (61.2%) followed closely as top concerns.  In response to these trends, manufacturers have been de-risking their supply chains. Eighty-six percent of respondents confirmed their companies have been working to adjust their supply chains to limit potential risks.
  • Respondents expect production to increase 1.7% over the next 12 months, down from 2.0% in Q3. More than 51% of respondents forecast output to rise over the coming months, with roughly one-quarter seeing declining production.

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