Manufacturers Grow, Stay Optimistic Despite Hiring Challenges

A strong majority of manufacturing companies expect 2015 to meet or beat 2014, and are optimistic about 2016 despite a persistent and troubling lack of qualified workers.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon


Despite ongoing staffing challenges, a survey of more than 750 U.S. manufacturing companies in over 25 different industries was overwhelmingly positive. Conducted by buying consortium Prime Advantage in July, the survey found:


  • 80% of respondents expect to be at or above previous year’s revenues
  • 83% percent anticipate maintaining or increasing revenue performance in 2016.
  • 61% planned on hiring new employees in 2015


The last point, however, also touches on a potential hurdle for manufacturers: finding skilled workers. A lack of qualified workers remained the top threat to manufacturing growth among respondents for the second consecutive year, with 46% citing this concern, down slightly from 53% in 2014.


Tempering Expectations
While having 80% of respondents think 2015 revenue will meet or beat 2014 is quite strong, that figure actually represented the lowest percentage of optimists in this category since 2010, and 27% of respondents were currently performing below forecast for 2015. Of those enjoying revenue growth, new product lines and new customers were credited for the growth.


Additional insights
Some other takeaways from the survey:


  • Capital expenditures: 87% are either meeting or exceeding capital expenditure plans for 2015 and 73% expect current trends to continue throughout the remainder of the year
  • Cost pressures: Raw materials top the list of leading cost pressures, with indirect materials and supplies, as well as component parts pricing, also reflecting significant margin-threatening factors for manufacturers
  • Employment: Of the 61% of members that went into 2015 planning to add new employees, 79% have already fulfilled that mission. No respondents are expecting layoffs and 47% expect to hire on additional employees.