Despite the economic roller coaster of the past few years or perhaps because of it Americans continue to value a strong manufacturing sector.
The third annual Public Viewpoint on Manufacturing survey, recently released by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, found once again that the vast majority of those polled consider America's manufacturing base "important" or "very important" to their standard of living.
The research, which included a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans in August across all 50 states, indicates a consistently high regard for manufacturing, both in terms of its role in the US economy and our global standing, as well as in terms of its importance in job creation. Among the survey highlights:
When asked if they could create 1,000 new jobs in their community with any new facility, survey respondents ranked manufacturing at the top of the list ahead of energy production facilities, technology development centers, retail centers, banks or financial institutions and several others.
More than three-fourths (79 percent) of survey respondents said a strong manufacturing base should be a national priority.
83 percent of survey respondents either "strongly agree" or "agree" America needs a more strategic approach to develop its manufacturing base.
43 percent of respondents believe current business leadership provides an advantage to US competitiveness versus all other countries. Conversely, only 26 percent and 29 percent respectively believe that federal and state leadership are helping create a competitive advantage for the US versus all other countries.
"This year's findings are remarkably similar to those from the past three years. It's crystal clear Americans remain steadfast in their commitment to creating a strong, healthy, globally competitive manufacturing sector in the United States, regardless of the prevailing economic winds," said Craig Giffi, vice chairman and consumer & industrial products industry leader, Deloitte LLP.
Even so, the data also detected a sense of "nervousness" about the future of the manufacturing sector in the US.
Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) do not believe that the economy has been improving or is in better shape since 2008. More than two-thirds (67 percent) believe the economy remains weak and could fall back into recession. And, Americans are nearly evenly split on whether the economy will show significant signs of improvement by 2015.
When asked to rate whether US manufacturing is becoming stronger or weaker from a longer-term perspective, only 7 percent said it will likely be stronger while 55 percent opted for weaker.
An executive summary of the survey findings is available at www.deloitte.com/us/mfgimageindex.