Less than half -- just 45% -- of the 60 senior manufacturing executives recently interviewed by PricewaterhouseCoopers are optimistic about the state of the U.S. economy during the next 12 months. The percentage is down dramatically from 63% in a similar survey three months ago and from 76% six months ago.
Significantly, 48% of the executives now see lack of demand as a barrier to their companies' growth, the same percentage that sees oil and other energy prices as a barrier to growth.
However, most of the executives expect oil prices to level off during the next year. While 28% percent of the executives expect energy prices to keep on rising during the next 12 months, this figure is down sharply from the 63% who six months ago foresaw energy prices rising.