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NAM Outlook Survey: Manufacturers to Invest, Despite Recession Worries

Jan. 6, 2023
“We’re looking to the new Congress and the administration for leadership and to focus on policies that remove barriers to manufacturing growth in the United States and fend off a severe downturn,” said NAM CEO Jay Timmons.

Nearly two-thirds of manufacturing leaders (62.4%) believed the U.S. economy will slip officially into a recession in the new year, according to the National Association of Manufacturers’ outlook survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The survey, which surveys manufacturers of all sizes on a quarterly basis, notes that 75.7% of respondents listed attracting and retaining a quality workforce as being the No. 1 business challenge. Supply chain challenges and increased raw material costs follow at 65.7% and 60.7%, respectively.

Although workforce and economic difficulties remain, respondents report planning for:

  • Capital spending on new equipment and technological investments (65.3%)
  • Upskilling and training of existing workforce (64.1%)
  • Solid demand for their company’s products (63.2%)
  • Hiring new employees (55.1%)
  • Investing in research and development (52.1%)

With the weakest reading since the third quarter of 2020, 68.9% of respondents felt either somewhat or very positive in their company's outlook, down over six percentage points from the third quarter. Large manufacturers were the least positive in their business outlook.

“Congress failed to act on essential tax reforms, which complicates investment, increases inflationary pressures and could stifle economic growth,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

When asked what they see as the most pressing priorities for the 118th Congress, more than three-quarters of respondents answered pushing back against regulatory overreach.

“Much-needed permitting reforms and provisions to strengthen our ability to conduct research and development, buy machinery and finance job-creating investments—which we need to promote growth within the sector—were left on the cutting room floor last year. Those reforms, combined with manufacturers’ ongoing efforts to inspire, educate and empower the future workforce, are critical to our competitiveness,” Timmons said.

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