Manufacturers are showing the highest level of business optimism since late 2012, according to the latest National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers issued earlier this spring.
The survey found that 86 percent of respondents were either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook, the highest sign of manufacturer confidence since the fiscal cliff debate of 2012. This optimism is attributed, in part, to manufacturers’ hard-fought legislative and legal gains, including the recent budget deal, which took the specter of a government shutdown off the table for two years, and a legal victory against the National Labor Relations Board’s poster rule.
Federal legal authorities found that the NLRB exceeded its authority when it required employers to post notices explaining workers’ rights to form a union, holding that Congress didn’t authorize the labor board to issue the poster rule.
Despite the uptick in optimism among responding manufacturers, the survey also shows that Washington continues to be the major source of burdens facing manufacturers, the association contended. The top business challenge, cited by 79 percent of respondents, was an unfavorable business climate due to taxes, regulations, and government uncertainties, including Washington’s inability to solve problems. Rising health care and insurance costs followed closely behind, with uncertainties attributed mostly to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“Manufacturers in America are making more products today and making them better than ever before, which is why they believe in a bright future of growth and job creation,” says NAM chief economist Chad Moutray. “However, Washington’s burdensome regulatory, tax, and health care policies still loom large in manufacturers’ business decisions, particularly for the smallest companies. Manufacturers are prepared to make the investments that will jump-start our economy, but we need Washington to work with us.”
Key survey findings include manufacturers plan to increase their spending by 1.9 percent during the next 12 months, up from 1.4 percent in December.
Nearly four in five cited the unfavorable business climate due to taxes, regulations, and government uncertainties as their top business challenge.
Just over three in four named rising health care and insurance costs as a primary business challenge, with uncertainties surrounding the ACA.
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