Manufacturing Business Outlook by Quarter, 2015–2017 — The NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey found 93.3% of manufacturers are somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook, up from 56.6% at Q1 2016 and 77.8 percent in Q4 2016.

The National Assn. of Manufacturers reported that the results of its quarterly NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook survey show optimism increased to 93.3% during Q1 2017, a record high in the survey’s nearly 20-year history. The rise corresponds with an increase manufacturing activity, NAM noted, and is based on widely shared confidence that the administration of President Donald Trump will provide relief from government regulations, tax reform, and significant investments in U.S. infrastructure.

NAM is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, and represents more than 14,000 small, midsized, and large manufacturers in every industrial sector, in every state. For the past 20 years, NAM has surveyed its members each quarter to gain insight into their economic outlook, hiring, and investment decisions and business concerns.

In the latest survey, the 93.3% represents manufacturers who indicated they are “somewhat positive” or “very positive” about their own company’s outlook, upfrom 56.6% at Q1 2016 and 77.8% in Q4 2016. As a result, the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Index rose to 63.7% (also a new high) from 53.3% in December (Q4 2016), and marking the second straight quarter where the outlook exceeded its historic average (i.e., 50%.)

The details of the survey demonstrate the bases for manufacturers’ optimism. Respondents expect overall sales growth of 4.9% on average over the next 12 months, and on this point mid-sized manufacturers (50-499 employees) were even more optimistic, forecasting 5.2% growth in sales over the next year. 82.8% of all respondents expect sales to increase in the coming 12 months, and only 5.4% expect sales to decrease during that time.

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