PwC released last week its Q1 2014 Manufacturing Barometer which found that positive sentiments about the prospects of U.S. commerce in the next 12 months reached the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2005.
Optimism around the prospects of the U.S. economy rose among industrial manufacturers to 71 percent, from 68 percent in the previous quarter and 55 percent in the first quarter of 2013. Concurrent with the improved sentiment, uncertainty about the domestic outlook continued to abate among industrial manufacturers, dropping to 27 percent in the first quarter, representing the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012.
“The level of optimism among industrial manufacturers concerning the direction of the domestic economy continued to rise, with company revenue growth expectations remaining at healthy levels,” said Bobby Bono, PwC’s U.S. industrial manufacturing leader. “This improved sentiment bodes well for the year ahead, as management teams continue to indicate consistent near-term spending plans, including hiring more workers, supporting new product development and investing in IT and R&D.”
PwC’s Manufacturing Barometer is a quarterly survey based on interviews with 61 senior executives of large, multinational U.S. industrial manufacturing companies.
Regarding company growth expectations, 82 percent of survey respondents expect positive revenue growth for their own companies in the next 12 months, with 15 percent forecasting double-digit gains and only 5 percent anticipating decreased revenues.
The majority (56 percent) of U.S. industrial manufacturers surveyed plan to add employees to their workforce over the next 12 months, according to the report. This level is down modestly from the 60 percent indicating hiring plans in the fourth quarter of 2013, but up from 45 percent in last year’s first quarter.
Pennsylvania manufacturing employers add 1,300 jobs in March
The employment gains reversed four consecutive months of job losses.
Manufacturing employed 560,700 people in the state in March, an increase of less than 1 percent from the 559,400 workers the industry employed in February, according to seasonally adjusted data released Friday by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.
The employment numbers were part of an overall strong jobs picture in Pennsylvania. The state’s unemployment rate reached the lowest level since October 2008. It dropped to 6 percent in March, down from 6.2 percent in February. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7 percent.
Those are pretty strong numbers. Yet more evidence that U.S. manufacturing is alive and well, especially here in Pennsylvania.