NMW 2004: NAM survey finds manufacturing recovery, improved hiring

Chicago, IL—The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released Feb. 23 a new economic forecast projecting a strong recovery for U.S. manufacturers in 2004.


Chicago, IL— The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released Feb. 23 a new economic forecast projecting a strong recovery for U.S. manufacturers in 2004. The association's 'Outlook for Manufacturing and the U.S. Economy' and results of NAM's annual membership survey on economic and policy issues were unveiled on the first day of National Manufacturing Week 2004 at McCormick Place.

NAM's report predicts that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) will increase a healthy 4% in 2004, following an earlier 4.3% burst in 2003. 'As for manufacturing, after edging up 2.7% in 2003, we expect production to increase by more than 6% in 2004,' says Jerry Jasinowski, NAM's president. 'That's the fastest pace since 1999.'

Responses to NAM's poll of its members varied widely, but also offered many positive signs. For example, companies planning to hire new employees (31%) outnumbered those expecting layoffs (6%) by a more than five-to-one ratio. The 432 respondents, of a random sampling of 3,000 NAM members, also reported that the jobs they expect to fill are more likely to be higher-paid, higher-skilled production (34%) and professional positions (12%), rather than lower-skilled and support positions (18%).

NAM's survey adds that expectations for U.S. economic growth were mixed. However, about 80% of its members expect U.S. GDP to grow at 2.0% or more, and 26% predicted GDP growth of 3.0% or above. 'The recovery in manufacturing only really began in the fourth quarter of 2003, so most companies are just beginning to feel it now, and in some sectors more than others.'

Paralleling NAM's recent report on 'structural costs' that make manufacturing unnecessarily expensive and hard to stay located in the U.S., the survey also found that members feel they are adversely affected by heavy tax burdens (40%); cost of compliance with environmental regulations (43%); cost of complying with human resource rules (52%); fear of litigation (39%); and skyrocketing health care costs and other non-wage compensation (89%).

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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