In the annual National Manufacturing Week survey, released by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on March 21, 44% of U.S. manufacturers expect manufacturing to underperform in relation to the general economy. That's up from the 34% that held this view last year. Growth predictions for the U.S. economy in 2006 are coming in at less than 2.9% according to survey respondents.
However all is not lost as more than 50% of the respondents expect to increase capital spending and employment. Almost 75% report exporting their products to other countries, with 41% expecting imports to increase.
The labor shortage, however, is still a pressing concern. "Half of the respondents currently have unfilled positions because they can not find qualified workers, and 70% of the new jobs that survey respondents anticipate creating will be for either skilled production workers or highly educated professionals. The need for highly-educated professionals specifically has nearly doubled from 2005 and we anticipate it will continue to grow in the future," expalined John Engler, president of NAM.
Survey results are available at: www.nam.org/nmwsurvey.