NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: Third Quarter 2017

In the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the historically high levels of optimism that U.S. manufacturers expressed during the first two quarters of 2017 continued unabated through the third quarter. In March, 93.3 percent of respondents were positive about their own company’s outlook, an all-time high in the survey’s 20-year history. That dropped slightly in the second quarter to 89.5 percent, then rose a bit again in the third quarter to 89.8 percent. As a result, this year we have seen the highest consecutive three-quarter average—90.9 percent having a positive outlook for their company—in the survey’s history.

After years of economic headwinds, uncertainties and policy setbacks, since the 2016 election the survey has shown positive indicators about the health of the manufacturing sector, both in the U.S. and globally. For example, manufacturing leaders have reported a significant turnaround in activity over the past 12 months, and they are very upbeat in their assessment of demand and output moving forward. Beyond an improved economic landscape, manufacturers are cautiously optimistic that many of the policies they have long sought, such as pro-growth tax reform, a major infrastructure package and regulatory relief, might finally become a reality, albeit at a slower rate than some might have wanted.