Nam Creators

Manufacturers' positive expectations at record highs: NAM survey

July 8, 2021
To prepare for an "incredible future" for manufacturing, the association has launched the Creators Wanted campaign to tackle the skills gap and misperceptions about modern manufacturing

Nine out of U.S. manufacturers reported a positive outlook for their own companies, the highest rate in nearly three years, according to the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2021, recently released by National Association of Manufacturers. Large manufacturer respondents came in with 96.5% positive business outlook score, the highest since business size was added to the question 10 years ago.

“Attracting and retaining a quality workforce” and “rising raw material costs” remain manufacturers’ biggest concerns for the second straight quarter. Despite those concerns, manufacturers predicted some of the highest expected growth rates in the survey’s history and the most positive outlook since the third quarter of 2018.

Survey highlights:

  • 3.7% expected growth in full-time employment, a record high
  • 6.1% expected growth in sales over the next 12 months, a record high
  • 5.9% expected growth in production over the next 12 months, a record high

Read the full Q2 2021 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey results here.

Creators Wanted

“Manufacturers see an incredible future on the horizon and are predicting growth numbers unheard of in the more than two-decade history of this survey,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “But yet, a dark cloud still hangs over the industry. Manufacturers face long-term workforce challenges, with a record-high 851,000 open manufacturing jobs right now and more than 4 million to be filled over the next decade. While a very serious concern, manufacturers are doing everything we can to meet this challenge.”

To that end, the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s Creators Wanted campaign, including a first-of-its-kind mobile manufacturing experience, will cover thousands of miles in the second half of this year tackling the top two issues facing this critical workforce challenge: a skills gap and misperceptions about modern manufacturing.

“To keep this momentum going, elected leaders in Washington should advance policies that will enhance our competitiveness and strengthen our industry, starting with delivering bipartisan infrastructure investment,” Timmons said. “Failing to do so will rob generations to come of the opportunity to achieve their highest potential. Conversely, moving forward with proposed tax increases, as our studies have shown, would mean 1 million jobs lost in just the first two years. Anti-worker laws like the forced unionization PRO Act would upend our workplaces. Whether today’s manufacturing optimism is a passing moment or a new normal has a lot to do with the choices our elected leaders make.”

The latest episode in the Creators Wanted “Making the Future” video series premiered July 6. Titled “Chip In: Build a Career Making Your Favorite Technologies,” the presentation highlights how American manufacturers are investing in chip-making capabilities, and how those investments are creating a wealth of new job opportunities. The seven-minute episode will feature interviews with several industry individuals from Microsoft, Greene Tweed, SEMI, and of course, NAM. 

Coming July 14, “A Family Tradition: Building a Legacy in Manufacturing” will explore how manufacturing businesses passed down through generations have helped shape the industry, and how those family-run businesses are investing in their employees to build momentum for the future.