Manufacturers Indicate Increased Optimism for 2018
The growing U.S. and global economies, rising energy and commodity prices, and improved business and consumer confidence support the positive outlook.
Most manufacturers think 2018 is going to be a better year than 2017, according to results from the recent 2018 Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) National Manufacturing Outlook Survey. Optimism is high, as manufacturers’ responses indicated they have a more positive outlook about the economy for 2018 than in 2017. The growing U.S. and global economies, rising energy and commodity prices, and improved business and consumer confidence support the positive outlook.
More than 450 manufacturing executives participated in the survey, which includes the opinions of respondents who produce industrial/machining, transportation/automotive, construction, food and beverage, and other products. Key survey results include:
- 81% of manufacturers believe their revenue will increase in 2018, with 72% eyeing organic growth in the U.S. as their primary opportunity to increase sales
- Manufacturers are more optimistic about the regional and national economy than the global economy; the optimism rating for all three increased by more than 10 points since the 2017 outlook
- 62% of manufacturers expect their sectors to grow, more than doubling the 2017 outlook; food and beverage and construction materials cite the highest optimism for sector growth
- Manufacturers’ top three priorities are growing sales, cutting costs, and addressing the talent gap
As in past years, labor remains a significant challenge. More than half of survey participants cited the labor shortage as the greatest risk or barrier to growth, and more than half of manufacturers expect to increase hiring. The dichotomy of growing sales while cutting costs may also present a challenge.
Respondents plan to utilize technology to reduce risks and build a competitive advantage. Of the total respondents, 75% said that they will investigate/prioritize cybersecurity in 2018, while 50% will investigate/prioritize Big Data/ERP/IoT.
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