With a recession so far failing to materialize and inflation showing signs of weakening, manufacturers may begin to grow less wary about the economy. Recent data suggests that despite continuing risks, the bright spots may win the day.
Growth: GDP grew at a 2.4% annual rate in the second quarter of 2023. This number is notably higher than the 2.0% growth that analysts had expected for the quarter.
Employment: The overall employment rate sits at a very low 3.6%, defying expectations that the Fed’s inflation-reduction moves might create a surge in unemployment. Meanwhile, women in particular are enjoying an employment renaissance, including in manufacturing.
- Manufacturing had about 3,786,000 female employees in June, meaning that women made up 29.1% of the industry’s workforce, according to NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray.
- That number is just slightly lower than the 3,788,000 found in May, which was the highest number of female workers in manufacturing since September 2009.
Wages: At the same time that overall economic strength is growing, the United States is also seeing positive signs in wage inequality, with average income for the lowest-earning 50% of Americans increasing faster than all other population groups except for the ultra-wealthy.
Inflation: Inflation has been a significant pain point for manufacturers, but it now seems to be moderating. According to the latest Consumer Price Index data, inflation rose 3% in June from a year earlier—a big drop from the whopping 9.1% annual inflation rate in June 2022.
The last word: “Real GDP data suggests that while demand and output in the manufacturing sector remain challenged, there are other pockets of strength in the larger macroeconomy,” said Moutray.
- “The Federal Reserve is working to navigate a ‘soft landing’—something that is possible, even as recession risks continue to permeate the conversation.”
Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the midterm elections, the National Association of Manufacturers released its policy roadmap, “Competing to Win,” a comprehensive blueprint featuring immediate solutions for bolstering manufacturers’ competitiveness. It is also a roadmap for policymakers on the laws and regulations needed to strengthen the manufacturing industry in the months and years ahead.
With the country facing rising prices, snarled supply chains and geopolitical turmoil, manufacturers are outlining an actionable competitiveness agenda that Americans across the political spectrum can support. “Competing to Win” includes the policies manufacturers in America will need in place to continue driving the country forward.
“‘Competing to Win’ offers a path for bringing our country together around policies, shared values and a unified purpose,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The NAM is putting forward a plan filled with ideas that policymakers could pursue immediately, including solutions to urgent problems, such as energy security, immigration reform, supply chain disruptions, the ongoing workforce shortage and more. Manufacturers have shown incredible resilience through difficult times, employing more workers now than before the pandemic, but continued resilience is not guaranteed without the policies that are critical to the state of manufacturing in America.”
The NAM and its members will leverage “Competing to Win” to shape policy debates ahead of the midterm elections, in the remainder of the 117th Congress and at the start of the 118th Congress—including in direct engagement with lawmakers, for grassroots activity, across traditional and digital media and through events in key states and districts as we did following the initial rollout of the roadmap in 2016.
The document focuses on 12 areas of action, and all policies are rooted in the values that have made America exceptional and keep manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
Learn more about how manufacturers are leading and about the industry’s competitiveness agenda at nam.org/competing-to-win.
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 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% 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