NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: Fourth Quarter 2018

Manufacturers continued to report strong growth in activity, with the sector remaining one of the brightest spots in the economy. In the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 88.7 percent of respondents felt either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook, down from 92.5 percent in the third quarter (Figure 1). While that represents the second straight easing in confidence from the all-time high reading in the second quarter (95.1 percent), the four-quarter annual average, which reaches back to when congressional passage of tax reform appeared increasingly likely, shows that manufacturers’ optimism for 2018 reached the highest level on record in the 20-year history of the survey. On average this year, 92.4 percent of manufacturers surveyed reported a positive outlook for their companies (surpassing the 2017 average of 91.8 percent).