The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), recently presented its quarter four economic webcast, led by Chad Moutray, chief economist, NAM, to its association members, in addition to its small and medium corporate members. The October 19 webcast focused on the current U.S. and global macroeconomic trends and provided an overall outlook for the 2018 calendar year.
Economic uncertainties and global headwinds have challenged manufacturers in recent years. However, the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey has shown that the optimism of manufacturers has significantly improved since 2016. In quarter three, 89.9% of participants characterized their current business outlook as somewhat positive or very positive, compared to 56.6% in quarter one of 2016.
Although the manufacturing industry has seen a recent drop in hiring numbers, overall employment across the economy has continued to hover right above 4% —often considered “full employment.” Notwithstanding economic damage from recent hurricanes, the labor market has emerged as “one of the brighter spots in the economy,” Moutray mentioned.
Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the NAM economists have predicted a 2.6% annual growth rate for 2018. If U.S. Congress passes the proposed tax reform and infrastructure legislation growth rate could surge, NAM explained.