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NAM Sees Manufacturers’ Optimism Rising

March 11, 2021

The National Association of Manufacturers released its first Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey of 2021 and the first since the Biden administration took office. The survey showed manufacturers’ optimism increasing to nearly 88%—the highest reading in two years, and up from 74% in the Q4 2020 survey. This steady improvement represents an increase of 54 percentage points since the results of the first survey that measured manufacturers’ sentiment after the pandemic was declared (34% in Q2 2020).

“As vaccines roll out at a faster pace and we see signs of an improving economy, manufacturers’ optimism is rising fast,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Our industry is creating new jobs and investing in new projects, buoyed by signs that we may finally be getting COVID-19 under control. Of course, our industry knows we are not out of the woods yet. That’s why we continue to lead by example, wearing face coverings and promoting vaccination. The smart health protocols are more important than ever. This is our shot—not just to end the pandemic but to build a new and stronger economy that creates opportunity for all.”

Key survey findings include the following:

In the first quarter, nearly 88% of manufacturers said they were either somewhat or very positive about the outlook for their company.

Increased costs of raw materials (76%) and the inability to attract and retain talent (66%) were the top-two biggest challenges facing manufacturers in 2021.

Other top worries included rising health care and insurance costs (50.9%), transportation and logistics costs (50.2%), supply chain challenges with inventory management (48.7%) and an unfavorable business climate, including taxes and regulations (44.0%).

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