Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers released its final Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey of the year, which showed optimism climbing from its low in the second quarter brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fourth quarter, 74.2% of manufacturers responding to the survey felt positive about their own company’s outlook, up from 66% last quarter. While encouraging, a wide gap remains between today’s numbers and the 90% average in 2019.
After two quarters with weaker domestic demand topping the list of primary business challenges, the inability to attract and retain talent lead the pack once again in the fourth quarter with 62.4% of respondents listing it as their primary current business challenge. Prior to COVID-19, workforce challenges had been the main concern for 10 consecutive quarters. According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 525,000 job openings in manufacturing in October, a record high.
“There’s no question manufacturers have rebounded since the dramatic downturn in the spring, although a return to pre-pandemic optimism is still months away,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “We were looking at levels of anxiety not seen since the Great Recession. The recent relief bill passed in Congress must be signed immediately. This, coupled with the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines, will help ensure we don’t go backward. But it’s clear that to keep moving forward in 2021, we’ll need to see more bold action that fosters growth and competitiveness for manufacturers in America and caution against any efforts that may undermine the fragile progress made in the closing months of 2020.
“It will surprise many to know that manufacturers have more than half a million jobs to fill right now. We’re hiring, and that’s why workforce challenges are once again the top concern in our survey. The pandemic delayed our Creators Wanted Tour, but we will be launching virtual tour events in 2021 and hitting the road when it’s safe. And we look forward to working with the new Congress and new administration to help more Americans take advantage of the great career opportunities in modern manufacturing.”
Read the full survey results here.
The National Association of Manufacturers 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 12.2 million men and women, contributes $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 62% 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 NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
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 $2.25 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 www.nam.org.