Optimism Among US Manufacturers Grows
By James D. Sawyer
Among industrial manufacturers in the US, 48% are optimistic about nation’s economy for the coming 12 months. Only 7% are pessimistic. So say respondents to the Q4 2012 Manufacturing Barometer survey released January 29 by consulting organization PwC US. The number of respondents with a positive outlook increased by 11 percentage points from the results generated during the survey conducted in the third quarter of 2012.
These opinions contrast with sentiment regarding international markets. Optimism over the 12-month outlook for these markets remained low at 32%. Uncertainty remained high at 53%.
“Overall sentiment among U.S.industrial manufacturers regarding the prospects for the domestic economy rose in the fourth quarter along with company growth projections, which trended higher as well,” said Bobby Bono, U.S. industrial manufacturing leader for PwC. “The improved sentiment regarding the domestic outlook contrasts with the continued high level of uncertainty concerning the international stage. This dichotomy appears to be playing out in the healthy indications for net new hiring and operational investment, which contrast with the pullback in plans for international expansion. Management teams are placing their bets on the U.S. economy as they seek avenues to strengthen their competitive positions and foster growth.”
Among survey respondents, 83% foresee revenue growth at their own companies. Only 3% expect to lose revenue. In addition, the projected average growth rate for own-company revenue over the next 12 months increased to 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2012 up from a forecast of 4.6% in the third quarter and 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
In terms of hiring, 58% expect to engage in hiring. That’s up 21 percentage points from the same quarter in 2011. Among those who intend to hire, the most sought-after employees are expected to be professionals/technicians (58%), skilled laborers (35%) and production workers (43%). All of these categories increased over the third quarter and only 7% of survey respondents plan to reduce the number of full-time equivalent employees.
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