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Survey of manufacturers foreshadows strong year, but tariffs ‘a stumbling block’


Results from a survey of more than 300 U.S. manufacturers indicate that 2019 will be a good year for the industry, according to online manufacturing marketplace MFG.com. 

Overall, business is growing, and suppliers plan to increase staff in 2019 to keep up with demand, the MFGWatch 2019 Manufacturing Report found. More than 44% of manufacturing suppliers said they will invest in their workforce and acquire new technology. While 34% of buyers will focus more on technology infrastructure and not the workforce, an almost equal number (33%) plan to increase both this year.  

Also, 65% of responding supplier companies said they received more work in 2018 than in the previous year, compared with 40% from the survey conducted in 2016. More than 50% said their available capacity increased in 2018, while 37% said it stayed the same year-over-year. 

“Based on our data analysis, it’s our belief that 2019 will be a promising year for manufacturing and that business will continue to be strong along with the rest of the U.S. economy,” said Ronald Hollis, president and CEO of MFG. “There were some surprises in the survey findings, however, as well as some rising challenges that may slow progress.”

Among those concerns: 50% of suppliers agreed that the availability of materials is an issue, with 44% citing tariffs as a stumbling block. 

On the buyer side, tariffs and shipping costs were key areas affecting their supply chain strategies, both coming in at around 42%. Tariffs weren’t indicated as a concern on the last MFGWatch survey published in 2016. The growing gap in skilled workers was also a key concern.  

Nearly 90% of buyers and sourcing professionals cited the United States as their company’s primary sourcing destination for manufacturing their products. However, of those that are sourcing overseas, 79% have made no change to bring production back to North America from lower-cost countries. 

To download the free report, click here.

Business Record Insider: For a look back at an article about what some Iowa economists had forecast for the state and national economy in January, click here.

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