The results of the fourth WMEP Economic Crisis/COVID-19 Manufacturer Pulse Survey showed modest improvement in manufacturers’ outlooks when compared to the previous three rounds of the survey.
The October survey garnered 134 responses from manufacturing leaders from across the state and representing all major industries. WMEP Manufacturing Solutions shared the results during a webinar as part of the Manufacturing First Expo & Conference.
“We see continued evidence of recovery,” George Bureau, vice president of consulting services for WMEP Manufacturing Solutions, said during the presentation.
Notable findings for the October survey included:
- Current state of business compared to normal state of business: 18 percent — down greatly, 23 percent — down significantly, 18 percent — down somewhat, 13 percent — about the same, 18 percent — up somewhat, 7 percent — up significantly, and 2 percent — up greatly.
- The percentage saying business was down greatly has decreased steadily with each survey, with 37 percent in April, 31 percent in May, 22 percent in August and 18 percent in October.
- The New North is faring well in its recovery. On a 7-point scale where 1 indicates down greatly and 7 indicates up greatly, New North respondents’ ratings increased from 2.4 in April, to 2.6 in May, to 3.0 in August, and 3.6 in October.
- When it comes to the size of the employer, larger companies seem to be recovering faster than smaller ones.
- 53 percent of respondents expect to see an increase in demand for their products in the next six months, with 16 percent expecting a decrease and 24 percent anticipating no change.
- 36 percent expect to see an increase in profits in the next six months.
- 45 percent percent of respondents reported seeing an increase in order backlogs — 25 percent saw slight increases, and 20 percent saw significant increases.
- The top three concerns were sales declines, finding/keeping employees and employee health and safety.
- 52 percent said they have a somewhat positive outlook right now, with 5 percent saying they have a very negative outlook, 22 percent somewhat negative and 21 percent very positive.
- 55 percent expect their business to come back better than before after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, compared to 47 percent in August and 24 percent for both May and April.
- Supply chain is an issue, especially for companies sourcing from the Far East.
WMEP will again share the findings of the latest survey in a free webinar at 8 a.m. on Oct. 27. Visit wmep.org for more information.