By Jill Jusko Given the poor economic news seemingly released daily, it should come as no surprise that a strong majority of manufacturers in the United States believe their industry is facing a crisis. That's what some 73.5% of respondents said in an annual survey conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, of its membership. The results were released March 3 at National Manufacturing Week in Chicago. "Three-fourths of our members today believe that 'in light of current economic conditions, the United States is facing a manufacturing crisis.' That's not just a problem for us, it's a problem for the nation, because manufacturing leads the economy in productivity and innovation," states NAM President Jerry Jasinowski. The survey also showed that rising costs (such as those related to health care and energy), the emergence of China as a major manufacturing exporter, and 'excessive, punitive litigation' were the issues cited most frequently by survey respondents as major threats to the future of manufacturing. Just under 90% cited rising costs as a major threat. In other results, some 39.7% of respondents said they would expect a war with Iraq in the first half of 2003 to result in one quarter of slow GDP growth; 11.3%, one quarter of negative GDP growth; 16.2%, two quarters of slow GDP growth; 11.6%, two or more quarters of negative GDP growth; and 6%, no measurable impact. Some 11.6% say they would expect a war in the first half to stimulate the U.S. economy. Also, 68.2% of survey respondents said they would expect the U.S. economy to rebound quickly after hostilities end following any type of military action. The survey was distributed to 2,000 randomly selected NAM members; about 300 were returned. Just under 35% of respondents had fewer than 50 employees. Forty-three percent had 50 to 250 employees.