NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: First Quarter 2018

In the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), U.S. manufacturers express levels of optimism about the future of their companies and their industry that have never been seen in the survey’s 20-year history. Manufacturers project record-setting growth rates for capital investments, full-time employment and inventories over the next 12 months. The percentage of manufacturers who believe the country is on the right track (67.6 percent) has risen since the last survey, while the numbers of those who believe we are on the wrong track (11.4 percent) or are unsure (21 percent) have both fallen.
Regarding their own companies, 93.5 percent express a positive outlook (Figure 1), the second-highest reading in the survey’s 20-year history following the all-time high of 94.6 percent in December. Optimism has been at historically high levels over the past five quarters, averaging 92.1 percent. Sentiment is sharply higher than two years ago, with an average of 64.3 percent in 2016.

Manufacturers continue to be upbeat following Washington’s passage of the comprehensive tax cuts package and its less-burdensome approach toward regulatory policy—pro-growth stances that will help manufacturers compete in the global marketplace.