New NAM Outlook Survey: 2018 Marks Highest Year of Manufacturer Optimism; Workforce Shortage Looms

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) this week released the results of its Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2018, which shows manufacturers’ optimism for the year 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.

The inability to attract and retain a quality workforce remained manufacturers’ top concern (68.2 percent) in the fourth quarter, followed by increased raw material costs and trade uncertainties.

“This year was one for the record books, with manufacturers’ average optimism for 2018 hitting an all-time high,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Empowered by tax reform and regulatory certainty, manufacturers are keeping our promise to expand our operations, hire new workers and raise wages and benefits. But as this survey also shows, we face challenges, most seriously the workforce crisis. We have more than half a million jobs to fill right now—and by 2028, as many as 2.4 million could go unfilled if we don’t equip more Americans to take on these high-tech, high-paying careers.”

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