Survey Says: Manufacturing Outlook Edges Up in Second Quarter

Tax Reform, Regulations Remain Top Concerns

Washington, D.C., June 16, 2016 – The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released the results of its second quarter 2016 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, showing an uptick in overall sentiment. In this survey, 61.7 percent of manufacturers expressed positivity about their own company’s outlook, up from 56.6 percent who said the same thing in March. This marks the most optimistic manufacturers have been since December 2015.

“While this survey offers a bit of optimism for manufacturers, there is still a dramatic need for improvement before our sector can regain its footing,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “This survey, coupled with the latest jobs report, should serve as a stark reminder to Congress that policy priorities, including market-opening trade agreements and comprehensive tax reform as well as addressing regulatory barriers, are top of manufacturers’ minds. If lawmakers in Washington take action on these and other items, they could help reverse the pain manufacturers are experiencing, expanding job opportunities and strengthening the broader economy as a result.”

Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • “Red tape” continues to be a top business challenge. Three-quarters of manufacturers surveyed consider regulatory burdens to be one of the sector’s primary hurdles. In this survey, 82.6 percent of respondents said their company’s total spending on state and federal regulatory compliance had increased either modestly or substantially over the past few years. Furthermore, respondents cited capital investments and expenditures as the most likely use of funds if the cost of regulatory compliance were reduced. 
  • Manufacturers continue to call for comprehensive tax reform. The vast majority of respondents listed lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent or less (74.3 percent), making permanent an enhanced research and  development (R&D) incentive (61.2 percent) and enacting robust capital cost-recovery provisions (55.0 percent) as chief components of comprehensive tax reform that would make their business more competitive. 

A full write-up of the survey is available here. Read the NAM’s “Competing to Win” 2016 policy agenda here.


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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women,contributes $2.17 trillion to the U.S.economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the National Association of Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.