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Manufacturing outlook looking up

March 18, 2021

Manufacturing activity has rebounded sharply from the depths of last year’s slowdown due to the pandemic and global recession, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) first quarter outlook survey. The survey marked the third straight quarter of increased optimism among respondents, with 87.6 percent of manufacturers saying they felt either somewhat or very positive about their company’s outlook. Compare that to the 33.9 percent who responded positively in the second quarter of 2020, which was the worst since the Great Recession.

Despite the positive outlook, challenges remain. Rising raw material costs was the top business challenge cited (76.2 percent), followed by the inability to attract and retain talent, which dropped to second place (65.8 percent) after holding the top spot in 11 of the past 13 quarters prior to this one. The full report on the survey is available here.