Small and Mid-Size Manufacturers are Optimistic
Aug 25, 2006
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North American small and medium-size manufacturers are more optimistic than other industry segments, with many owners and managers projecting revenue growth and continued hiring over the next 12 months, according to the results of an International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board (IPA SBRB) survey.

The IPA SBRB Manufacturing Confidence Index was established at 45 for the first IPA SBRB manufacturing industry poll. By contrast, the aggregated IPA SBRB Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI) for all small and medium-size businesses participating in the survey was 39.3, representing a drop from 47.3 for the previous poll concluded in May 2006. The confidence of construction and contracting firms also dropped, to 30.7, from the 49.3 that was registered 3 months ago.

Nearly half of the manufacturers that responded to the poll are forecasting improvement in the economy over the next 12 months, and a full 50 percent expect revenues to increase during this period. Nearly 40% percent expect revenues to remain about the same. This compares to the results of all small businesses, in which only 42 percent believe the economy will improve in the next year and 46 percent expect revenue growth.

Hiring among manufacturers is projected to remain healthy. Only 5 percent intend to decrease the workforce in the next year, 45 plan to remain the same and 38 percent believe they will add employees.

Ranking Manufacturing Obstacles
Four top issues may, however, present serious obstacles to meeting growth projections:

  • finding quality employees - 17% of manufacturing respondents listed this as their most significant issue
  • cost of materials - 16%
  • taxes - 13%
  • economic conditions 12%

    Surprisingly, only 2 percent of manufacturers said energy and fuel were their greatest concern, while 15 percent of the universal group of all small businesses said it was their leading issue.

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