The National Association of Manufacturers third-quarter 2023 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey shows manufacturers had the lowest level of optimism among NAM members (65.1%) since the second quarter of 2020.
The sector continues to confront a tight labor market, unbalanced federal regulations and policy debates in Congress. The NAM conducted the survey from Aug. 17 to Aug. 31, 2023.
Key findings include:
- 65.1% of respondents felt positive in their company’s outlook, edging down from 67% in the second quarter. It was the fourth straight reading below the historical average (74.9%).
- Concern about an unfavorable business climate was the highest in six years (Q2 2017).
- The top challenges facing manufacturers include attracting and retaining a quality workforce (72.1%), weaker domestic economy (60.7%), rising health care/insurance costs (60.1%), unfavorable business climate (56.7%), increased raw material costs (45.5%) and supply chain challenges (37.8%).
- The survey found that 69.1% of small manufacturers, and 63.2% of all respondents, would hire more workers or increase compensation if the regulatory burden decreased.
- More than 70% of manufacturers would purchase more capital equipment if the regulatory burden on manufacturers decreased, with 48.6% increasing compensation, 48.6% hiring more workers, 42.5% expanding their U.S. facilities and 38.4% investing in research.