New Survey Results: Regulations, Health Care Costs Manufacturers’ Top Concerns

Washington, D.C., September 14, 2016 – The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released the results of its third quarter 2016 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, showing concerns over rising health care costs and regulatory compliance top the list of barriers to growth for manufacturers.

“Manufacturers continue to grapple not just with global economic challenges, but also with policy headwinds coming from Washington,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “Regulatory barriers, rising health care costs, a broken tax code and a lack of movement on free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership haven’t helped either. Policymakers in Washington can’t fix every problem, but they can certainly take action to give manufacturing—and the larger economy—a boost.”

Below are samples of the comments offered by survey respondents:

  • “Federal regulations and mandated employee health benefit costs are biggest areas of concern.” (Fabricated metal products)
  • “Government regulations and tax rates—current or proposed—are making more and more difficult for U.S. companies to stay globally competitive.” (Other/electromechanical products)
  • “Increased regulatory oversight/standards.” (Food manufacturing)
  • “Too much time spent on regulation compliance, taxes and not enough resources dedicated to growth of the business.” (Electrical equipment and appliances)

Key survey data points include:

  • Projected growth depends on firm size. Smaller firms anticipated sales growth of 1.3 percent while medium and larger firms averaged 2.1 percent growth expectations.
  • Manufacturers project 2016 interest rate increase. More than 58 percent of survey respondents felt the Federal Reserve would increase rates this year, but very few believed this increase would happen before December.
  • Manufacturers agree government regulations have a disproportionate impact on small businesses. Of those surveyed, 88.8 percent either somewhat or strongly disagreed with the notion that the federal government considers the point of view of small business owners when it imposes new regulations.

A full write-up of the survey is available here.

For more information and research from the NAM, visit the newly launched Center for Manufacturing Research webpage.


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 Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit