Even though the Asian financial crisis hasn't as yet had an apparent affect on U.S. manufacturers, that favorable situation might not last long. A survey of 2,000 member companies taken by the National Assn. of Manufacturers (NAM) indicates that industrial firms are bracing for a "major hit" from the crisis this year. Forty percent of the respondents say they expect Asia's turmoil to decrease U.S. exports "marginally" or "significantly"; 65% believe the effects of the crisis will not be offset by growth in Europe; and 60% predict that U.S. economic growth will slow to 2.5% or lower.
Still, the survey reveals, U.S. manufacturers are optimistic that the Asian economic difficulties won't affect employment. Forty percent of those surveyed expect to increase their number of full-time, permanent jobs.