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US manufacturers optimistic

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Regarding actual company growth expectations, 82% of survey respondents expect positive revenue growth for their own companies in the next 12 months, with 15% forecasting double-digit gains and only five percent anticipating decreased revenues. The projected average revenue growth rate for own-company revenue over the next 12 months remained consistent at 5.3%, compared to 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013, but well above the 4.3% recorded in the first quarter of 2013.

The majority of U.S. industrial manufacturers surveyed plan to add employees to their workforce over the next 12 months. This level is down modestly from the 60%indicating hiring plans in the fourth quarter of 2013, but up from 45% in last year's first quarter. According to the survey, the most sought-after employees will be skilled labor, followed by production workers and professionals/technicians. In addition, there was an increase in plans to hire white collar support personnel at 20%, compared to only seven percent in last year's first quarter.

"While industrial manufacturers have continued to indicate a focus on hiring skilled labor, they are also increasingly concerned about the lack of qualified workers."

"While industrial manufacturers have continued to indicate a focus on hiring skilled labor, they are also increasingly concerned about the lack of qualified workers," added Bono. "As the economy continues its growth path and the unemployment rate decreases, we will likely see an increased need for worker training programs aimed at helping companies support expansion, lift production and support innovation."

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Twenty-eight percent of respondents planned M&A activity in the year ahead, with the majority of that group focusing on purchasing another business, followed by the sale of part/all of their own business or a spin-off. "Supported by strong balance sheets, there has been a gradual increase in sentiment for M&A among industrial manufacturers, pointing to some potential for increased activity in the year ahead," Bono stated.  Looking at other business initiatives, 18 percent of respondents indicated plans to expand into new markets abroad, while 13 percent planned to invest in new facilities abroad.

Among the survey findings, lack of demand was cited as the leading potential barrier to growth in the next 12 months for 44% of respondents. This was followed by concerns about legislation/regulatory pressures and concern about capital constraints. In addition, concerns about lack of qualified workers and potential decreasing profitability both rose to 28% of respondents, from 20% in the fourth quarter.  

 

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