Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: Fourth Quarter 2020

The National Association of Manufacturers has released its fourth-quarter Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, which shows a strong rebound since COVID-19 disrupted business in the spring.

In the fourth-quarter survey, 74.2% of respondents said they were either somewhat or very positive about the outlook for their company. That number is a noticeable improvement following readings of 33.9% and 66% in the second and third quarters of 2020. And after two quarters with weaker domestic demand topping the list of primary business challenges, the inability to attract and retain talent has returned as the top concern in the fourth quarter.

Despite significant progress, manufacturing production remains 3.7% below the level seen in February. Companies continue to cite challenges in the supply chain and hiring as the lingering negative effects of COVID-19. Just over 29% of respondents said their revenues will recover to pre-pandemic levels before or during the fourth quarter, while 38.3% said they expect their revenues to return to normal sometime in 2021.

NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey: Fourth Quarter 2020