NAM Survey Reports the Most Optimistic Manufacturing Outlook in 20 Years

The numbers don’t lie. The most recent Manufacturers Business Outlook Survey (April 2017), assembled quarterly by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), shows 93.3% of U.S. manufacturers feel positive about their business prospects, a record high in the survey’s nearly 20-year history. The latest wave in confidence tops even the prior quarter’s confidence index of 77.8% or the confidence level of 56.6% one year ago.

Good reasons to feel confident

The rise in industry optimism stems from a combination of positive indicators including:

  • a global surge in manufacturing activity
  • confidence that the Trump administration will curtail government regulations, promote beneficial tax reform and initiate significant investments in U.S. infrastructure
  • development of new, affordably priced smart manufacturing technologies that are within the reach of small and midsized manufacturers

Sales projections rising as production volumes increase

The data in the survey establishes a sound base for the industry’s optimism. Respondents expect overall sales growth to hit 4.9% on average over the next 12 months. Midsized manufacturers were even more optimistic, forecasting 5.2% growth in sales. This optimism has triggered a surge in production with estimated output increasing by 4.8% in the coming year, up from 3.0% in the Q4 2016 survey.

New technology provides faster return on capital investment 

To meet growing demand, advanced asset monitoring software and machining technology are bringing more efficiency and higher profits to companies that invest for future growth. In order to manufacture titanium components more efficiently for its F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, Lockheed Martin invested in cryogenic machining technology from 5ME. As a result of 5ME’s technology, the aerospace company projects savings of up to 30% on large titanium aerostructure components. Similarly, Caterpillar Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, chose 5ME’s Freedom eLOG Asset Monitoring System to provide consistent and efficient manufacturing data collection and analysis in real time. The result? 5ME’s Freedom eLOG reduced Caterpillar’s delay times by 59%, decreased part setup times by 39% and increased In-Cycle time by 30%. Taken together, these efficiencies created an additional $1.2 million in production value.

There’s no better time to invest

With industry confidence at a 20-year high, there has never been a better time to invest in your company’s future. Learn more at and get your copy of NAM’s 1Q 2017 Quarterly Outlook at