Manufacturing Not Yet Ready to Shift into High Gear covers a panel of economists attending the American Trucking Associations’ annual management conference in Phoenix. Among the speakers was Dave Huether, the NAM’s chief economist.

From “Economic Experts Look at Economy During ATA Session“:

[High] unemployment is contributing to another anemic number in this recovery, and that’s consumer spending on services. David Huether, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, showed a chart comparing various figures from this recovery with the average of the past 10 recoveries. Consumer purchases of services, which account for 48 percent of the economy, were a fraction of the average.

On the other hand, the chart showed manufacturing is much higher than in past recoveries — in fact it’s growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy. This is largely thanks to exports, another higher-than-average figure in this recovery. U.S. exports have gorwn about 14 percent, about 3.5 times faster than average growth in the first-year recovery. And manufactured goods mean more truckloads, as trucks transport both raw materials and finished products.

“One thing to keep in mind is that even with the loss of millions of jobs in manufacturing in the U.S., the U.S. manufacturing sector remains by far the largest in the world,” Huether said. “Even with the sharp rise in China’s manufacturing, it’s still a little less than half of the U.S. The U.S. still makes things.”

Manufacturing, he predicted, will grow a little faster than the economy, but not strong enough to actually add employment for another six months or so. As far as GDP, he predicted growth of 1.8 to 2.5 percent in the next three quarters, “but look for the economy to start running on all cylinders in the third or fourth quarter of 2011.”

President of the ATA is Bill Graves, and his comments at the conference were widely reported by the trade press.

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