Concerns over US economy belie manufacturers’ optimism

Posted on 27 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

US industrial manufacturers are hopeful of good individual growth in the next 12 months but have revealed grave concerns regarding the future of the wider US economy.

According to findings by the PwC Manufacturing Barometer for Q3, only five per cent of US manufacturers are optimistic about the year ahead – a steep drop from 48% in Q2 and it’s at lowest since Q4 of 2008.

Barry Misthal, global industrial manufacturing leader for PwC, said: “There has been a significant shift away from optimism for the US economy among US industrial manufacturers over the past three months.”

The report shows that over the next 12 months, many US industrial manufacturers predict positive own-company growth, are planning new investments of capital and are forecasting international sales to heavily contribute to their bottom line.

“They aren’t pessimistic, which aligns with how they positively view their own revenue prospects and are positioning and driving their businesses for growth in the next 12 months. The findings of the Q3 Barometer suggest that the strategic investments and plans being made by U.S. industrial manufacturers are strengthening their company’s potential in the face of an uncertain economic environment,” Misthal added.

Further results found that the majority of industrial manufacturers are beginning to use new forms of communication and are setting up social media channels, like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, in a bid to learn more about their customers.

The survey highlights lack of demand as the biggest barrier to business growth and shows that despite ongoing uncertainty about the global economy, a vast majority of U.S. industrial manufacturers are more uncertain than outright pessimistic.

These new findings mirror the UK report from CBI yesterday in which they announced predictions of significant falls in activity over the next few months and a drop in sentiment among manufacturers about the industry’s prospects.

Ian McCafferty, chief economic adviser at CBI, commented on the results: “This fall in sentiment is the sharpest we have seen since the height of the recession in the middle of 2009.”