NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: Second Quarter 2018

In the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), it is clear that businesses continue to experience highly elevated levels of activity as a result of pro-growth policies like tax reform, with optimism once again breaking records—95.1 percent of respondents wereeither somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook, the highest rate since the 20- year-old survey was introduced in the fourth quarter of 1997 (Figure 1). In general, those completing this survey have been upbeat since the end of 2016, averaging 92.6 percent positive over the past six quarters. Additionally, the Manufacturing Outlook Index also rose to an all-time high in this report, the seventh straight quarter where the outlook exceeded the survey’s historical average.

Manufacturers also posted near or all-time high numbers in this quarter’s survey when it came to theirexpectations for hiring workers (highest ever), raising wages (highest since 2001), increasing investments (highest ever), and increased sales (second-highest ever) (Figure 3). Outlook measures for medium-sized and large manufacturers also reached an all-time high in this survey. Clearly, manufacturers continue to be upbeat following Washington’s passage of the comprehensive tax cutspackage mentioned earlier as well as other positive policy changes out of Washington like its less- burdensome approach toward regulatory policy—pro-growth stances that will help manufacturers compete in the global marketplace.