The latest NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers shows growing concerns over the cost of health care and insurance. This concern came in at 74.0 percent followed by concerns about the political climate coming in at 72.1 percent and followed by the unfavorable business environment due to taxes and regulation at 67.7 percent.
With the provisions of the Affordable Care Act now beginning to be implemented manufacturers are growing more concerned about what that will do to their health care costs. With the fiscal cliff debate behind us there is still uncertainty about the political climate as Washington seems to steer from one crisis to the next. This constant state of uncertainty makes it difficult for manufacturers to plan and hire.
This quarter we asked a series of special questions related to immigration. Over two-thirds of those responding to some special questions on the topic said that they supported comprehensive immigration reform. Manufacturers utilize foreign-born workers in a number of ways, ranging from leadership roles to research and development (R&D) to production workers to clerical staff. In fact, three-fourths described immigrants as “integral to the production process.”
This explains why manufacturers have been so actively engaged in the push for comprehensive immigration reform as they see it as critical to their competitiveness.
The results of this quarter’s survey show that the U.S. economy is a complicated mix of both progress and enduring headwinds that dampen growth. Optimism remains below the levels we saw a year ago and for us to see improvement manufacturers need pro-growth policies from Washington to sure up certainty and get the economy moving again.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.