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Manufacturers upbeat about future but Washington business climate still concern

Despite this uptick in optimism, the survey also shows that Washington continues to be the major source of the burdens facing manufacturers. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

3/11/2014

WASHINGTON – Manufacturers are showing the highest level of business optimism since late 2012, according to the latest National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers.

The survey found that 86.1 percent of respondents were either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook, the highest sign of manufacturer confidence since the fiscal cliff debate of 2012.

This optimism is attributed, in part, to manufacturers’ hard-fought legislative and legal gains, including the recent budget deal, which took the specter of a government shutdown off the table for two years, and the NAM’s legal victory against the National Labor Relations Board’s poster rule.

Despite this uptick in optimism, the survey also shows that Washington continues to be the major source of the burdens facing manufacturers. The top business challenge, cited by 79.0 percent of respondents, was an unfavorable business climate due to taxes, regulations and government uncertainties, including Washington’s inability to solve problems.

Rising health care and insurance costs followed closely behind, with uncertainties attributed mostly to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Manufacturers in America are making more products today and making them better than ever before, which is why they believe in a bright future of growth and job creation,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray.

“However, Washington’s burdensome regulatory, tax and health care policies still loom large in manufacturers’ business decisions, particularly for the smallest companies. Manufacturers are prepared to make the investments that will jump-start our economy, but we need Washington to work with us, not against us.”

Key survey findings include the following:

• 86.1 percent of respondents were either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook.

• Manufacturers plan to increase their spending by 1.9 percent over the next 12 months, up from 1.4 percent in December.

• 79.0 percent cited the unfavorable business climate due to taxes, regulations and government uncertainties as their top business challenge.

• 77.1 percent named rising health care and insurance costs as a primary business challenge, with uncertainties surrounding the ACA.

The NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers was conducted among the NAM’s membership of small, medium and large manufacturers. Click here for the full survey results.

The NAM’s Growth Agenda contains policies to keep manufacturing competitive.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states.

Manufacturing employs 12 million men and women, contributes $2.03 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for two-thirds of private-sector research and development.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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