ISM: Manufacturing Activity Expanded for Second Straight Month, Slowing a Little in April

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The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) expanded for the second straight month, albeit at a slower pace in April. The composite index declined from 51.8 in March to 50.8 in April, but even with the decrease, this represented progress in the manufacturing sector after contracting for five consecutive months from October through February. New orders (down from 58.3 to 55.8) and production (down from 55.3 to 54.2) each grew at decent rates for the month despite some easing in this release, and exports (up from 52.0 to 52.5) accelerated, increasing for only the third time in the last 12 months.

Last month’s release helped to fuel the narrative that manufacturing activity was starting to stabilize, and the current data mostly support that view. At the same time, though, manufacturers remain challenged by global headwinds and still-low commodity prices, and a number of economic indicators have been disappointing, highlighting the fact that business’ struggles are still far from over. The sample comments tended to echo this nuanced view of modest improvements, with some respondents noting a pickup in sales while others cited ongoing sluggishness. One’s perspective was likely industry-specific. Read More

Hannover Messe: Manufacturers from the United States on the World Stage

By | General, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

This week, I had the privilege of attending Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology. This was my third year traveling to Germany for the event, along with a delegation of several NAM members, and this year was certainly special as the United States was the official partner country.

With more than 5,000 exhibitors, Hannover is an impressive demonstration of the power and ingenuity of manufacturers worldwide. This year was our chance to take center stage and show the world the innovation revolution that manufacturers are leading in America—and to create opportunities to reach the 95 percent of customers who live outside the United States, which is critical in today’s global economy.

The NAM was proud to be a sponsor and partner with the U.S. Department of Commerce to ensure that manufacturers in the United States had an impressive showing and that manufacturing was a central focus for the many members of the administration, including the president, who attended.

Select USA opening ceremonies

Getting ready to begin: the NAM was proud to sponsor the United States as partner country at the 2016 Hannover Messe.


The show officially kicked off at the Sunday afternoon opening ceremonies. President Barack Obama became the first president to attend the event, and he joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel to welcome the world to the 69th Hannover Messe. The two world leaders not only shared a stage for their remarks; they also shared a united cause—to strengthen manufacturing.

President Obama talks with Chancellor Merkel and business leaders. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Chancellor Merkel and business leaders. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Following the opening ceremonies, I joined President Obama and Chancellor Merkel at the Schloss Herrenhausen for an engaging discussion with global business leaders centered on promoting robust economic growth and a joint commitment to expanding trade opportunities.

With President Obama and members of his administration on the ground for the trade show, the trip was also a chance to advance many of manufacturers’ top priorities. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is one of the strongest advocates for manufacturers in America, and I am proud that we were able to work so closely with her and her great team.


At the top of the list of priorities for this trip was the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would join the United States and the European Union (EU) in the largest economic and trade partnership. We were able to discuss TTIP multiple times with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Mike Froman and Deputy USTR Michael Punke and brought our delegation to meet with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, emphasizing the importance of strong and ambitious outcomes, including a strong shared standard, to benefit manufacturers of all sizes on both sides of the Atlantic. (Read more from NAM Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey here.)


Banner just outside of Hannover fair grounds.

A common theme during our conversations with everyone in Hannover, including U.S., German and EU policymakers, manufacturers large and small and our European business advocacy partners, was how best we can win the “war on trade.” In the face of increasing populist rhetoric on the campaign trail in the United States and a vocal protest wave in Europe, we need to work closely together to explain what TTIP is and how it will create new opportunities for manufacturers, improve growth in our communities and benefit our families. Manufacturers must tell our story of the transformative impact that the agreement will have in new ways to cut through the myths propagated by many NGO and activist groups.

Trade is essential to manufacturers’ success, as it allows us to reach the customers living outside our borders—the very customers exploring the modern technology and impressive products on display at Hannover.


Monday was a packed day, touring the facilities, exploring the exhibits, talking with U.S. and European officials and meeting with U.S. manufacturers and friends who had also crossed the Atlantic for the event.

Any visitor would come away with a clear sense that modern manufacturing is vastly different from our past. It’s sleek, high-tech and changing at a rapid pace. Even in just three years, I’ve witnessed dramatic advances in the technology on display at Hannover.

I joined U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews for a live Facebook chat about what we had witnessed, the importance of trade and the promise of modern manufacturing and the Internet of Things.

Talking trade, investment and advanced manufacturing with Dep. Commerce Secretary Andrews.

Talking trade, investment and advanced manufacturing with Secretary Andrews.

At a business summit on the fairgrounds, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel were joined by U.S. and German CEOs and officials, including Secretary Pritzker, to discuss the future of transatlantic economic relations. Unsurprisingly, this was a recurring theme throughout the trip—and for good reason!


Tuesday morning, I was grateful for the chance to talk with Siemens employees and customers at their exhibit. Siemens has been a fantastic partner in preparing for Hannover Messe, and it was great to see many of their innovative solutions on display.

As I said in my remarks, “When you look around this impressive venue, there’s no doubt the world is changing—and changing for the better. Manufacturers are leading the way and driving this change every day. But there’s something that doesn’t change. Manufacturers are still improving our world, offering hope and opportunity through the people we employ, the lives we touch and the products we make.”



Speaking to Siemens employees and stakeholders at their exhibit about the future of manufacturing.

Before departing, I led a roundtable discussion with Secretary Pritzker on how we win the battle on trade. We were joined by NAM member companies—Liberty Pumps, UL, UPS and Texas Instruments—as well as leading European advocacy groups and German officials. Expanding opportunities to sell our products overseas means winning the battle for jobs in the United States!

U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker engages the NAM delegation about how to advance manufacturers' top priorities in the U.S.

Secretary Pritzker (center) engages the NAM delegation about how to advance manufacturers’ top priorities in the United States.


As always, I left Hannover energized and proud of our industry. There’s always work to do, and we must continue to take our message to our elected officials so that the right policies are in place for our success. But there should be no doubt: manufacturers continue to lead the world by creating solutions and building the future.



5 Facts That Show the Power of Small

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Marlin Steel Wire Products President and Owner and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Small and Medium Manufacturers Group Vice Chair Drew Greenblatt discussed the NAMPower of Small campaign in Inc. Magazine this month! Greenblatt shares how the new initiative aims to tell the story of small and medium-sized manufacturers and their contributions to this countrys success and shares some interesting facts that clearly demonstrate that large impact of small and medium-sized manufacturers.

Check it out below!

5 Facts That Show the Power of Small
New initiative aims to tell the story of small and medium-sized manufacturers and their oversized contributions to this countrys success.

CREDIT: Getty Images

Thats why Im excited to be part of the National Association of ManufacturersPower of Small campaign. The new initiative aims to tell the story of small and medium-sized manufacturers and their oversized contributions to this countrys success.

In launching the program and communicating with manufacturers and policymakers, the NAM has compiled some interesting facts that clearly demonstrate that large impact often comes in small packages. Did you know:

1. Small and medium-sized businesses comprise the preponderance of the manufacturing sector. Of the 256,363 firms identified in the most recent data, only 3,626 were large companies. The remaining 98.5%a total of 252,737 companieswere businesses employing fewer than 500 people. This includes companies like mine, Marlin Steel, with its 31 dedicated workers.

2. The very small make up the largest proportion of manufacturing. If hundreds of employees still sounds big, know that most manufacturers fall far short of that mark. In fact, three-quarters of manufacturing companies have fewer than 20 employees. These entrepreneurial ventures help turbo-charge the economy and strengthen local communities.

3. Smaller manufacturers employ almost as many people as their larger counterparts. Small and medium-sized manufacturers are responsible for 5 million American jobs, with firms of less than 20 employees supporting 1 million of them. Large manufacturers, by comparison, have about 6 million workers.

4. The revenues of small manufacturers stack up well against some big competition. Total receipts at the small end of the manufacturing spectrum totaled $213.5 billion according to the most recent data. Larger manufacturers booked $367.1 billion.

5. Americas success in global commerce starts with the small. Small and medium-sized businesses dominate exports, accounting for 98% of the 303,000 U.S. companies selling goods overseas. These little guys were responsible for one-third of known export value, making them key contributors to a beneficial trade balance. Marlin Steel, to take one example, exports to 39 countries.

These statistics have serious implications this election year. As the nation evaluates candidates for office, we must identify and support those who will do the most to strengthen this countrys economic backboneour small business sector. To this end, the NAM is working hard to encourage manufacturers of all sizes to raise their voices together and advocate a policy agenda that works for manufacturing, for small businesses and for America.

What is clear is that no matter which party prevails in November, our new leaders must understand that trade supports small business jobs, and they must be willing to advance fair agreements that will open markets to smaller export firms. They must also recognize that small businesses are drowning under compliance requirements and commit to lessening that burden. And they must take our side on tort reform and intellectual property protections to ensure that a frivolous lawsuit or a theft of trade secrets cannot wipe out a vibrant small company.

As the five facts above demonstrate, small manufacturers are lifting above their weight in our economy and our communities, even while battling significant headwinds. Imagine what would be possible if we unleash the full Power of Small.

NAM-PAC Events Have Raised More Than $1 Million

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Since the inception of the National Association of Manufacturers Political Action Committee (NAM-PAC) in January 2013, we are proud to report that PAC events have raised more than $1 million to support members of Congress and candidates who have established themselves as proven champions in supporting a pro-manufacturing agenda. Thus far, the NAM-PAC has held 62 events for members and candidates on both sides of the aisle, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5), Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Ron Kind (D-WI-3) just to name a few.

We are very proud of reaching this tremendous milestone and extremely grateful to NAM member company political action committees that have joined us in supporting these campaigns.

Proudly, the PAC has a strong history of supporting incumbent manufacturing champions facing difficult primary and general election campaigns as well as challengers who have committed to pursuing an NAM-friendly agenda once elected to Congress. The NAM-PAC is committed to supporting candidates who stand firm on their promises to create a policy environment in the United States that encourages growth and innovation.

For the remaining six months of this critical 2016 election cycle, the NAM-PAC will look to build upon our already successful efforts to assist campaigns of members of Congress who consistently support the manufacturing industry. To create high-paying manufacturing jobs and grow our economy, it is imperative that manufacturers stand together to elect candidates who are willing to fight for manufacturing interests in Congress.

If you have questions about the NAM-PAC or our events, contact Erik Rosedahl at or (202) 637-3054.

Jay Timmons Congratulates the 2016 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders

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Today, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons congratulated the 2016 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders at the 2016 STEP Ahead lunch. Read his remarks below!

Thank you, Cheryln, for that introduction. And thanks to Alcoa for your support of STEP and The Manufacturing Institute’s work to strengthen the manufacturing workforce.

It’s a pleasure to welcome all of you to Washington and to STEP Ahead.

This is one of my favorite annual celebrations of our industry, without question, and I want to congratulate each and every one of our Honorees and Emerging Leaders.

In the middle of a political season that’s Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 1.00.29 PMbeen divisive and frustrating, it’s refreshing to be in a room full of inspiring people…leaders dedicated to getting things done…who see beyond a problem to achieve real-world solutions.

You are trailblazers, innovators and leaders. You are ambassadors for manufacturing in your communities, inspiring the next generation. And you are building the future.

Modern manufacturing is changing lives and changing the world. From 3-D printing and nanotechnology to sustainable agriculture and lifesaving medicines and beyond…manufacturers in the United States are driving an innovation revolution.

Billions of everyday objects are now connected via the web, changing not only what we make but how we make it. First it was our phones and our watches. Soon it will be everything from our contact lenses to autonomous automobiles and transcontinental pipelines. And the digitally integrated factory itself is becoming more productive, less wasteful and safer than ever before.

As manufacturers, you are part of something big—the backbone of our economy and our country.

When manufacturing succeeds, America succeeds. Manufacturing creates opportunity and strengthens communities. We add more than $2 trillion annually to the U.S. economy. We employ more than 12 million men and women—and support another 6 million jobs along the way. And for every dollar invested in manufacturing, another $1.40 in economic benefit is created.

Of course, we face our share of challenges…unavoidable headwinds, such as global economic weakness and worldwide instability. While this will be slow to change, our leaders right here in our own country have at this moment the power to fix other self-imposed barriers to opportunity and success.

They can fix policies in Washington that imperil our promise. These barriers exist because Washington hasn’t yet summoned the will to change them. And because “We The People,” in some ways, haven’t done enough to fight for manufacturing as essential to American Exceptionalism and our future.

That’s why the NAM’s work matters. That’s why your voices as manufacturers matter. I know you’ve just come from Capitol Hill. It’s so important that we speak up for the policies that will help our industry grow and thrive…and help you succeed.

That includes everything from tax, regulatory and legal reform to improvements in our approach to health care, infrastructure and trade.

Earlier this year, in fact, the NAM laid out a comprehensive agenda, called “Competing to Win,” that makes it very clear to our elected leaders which policies they should support if they truly support manufacturing.

All of our policy goals are rooted in the the foundational principles of the country we love, the first of which is free enterprise: powerful market forces that drive innovation and growth better than any system in history.

The second is competitiveness: our ability to expand markets and succeed in the global economy.

The third is individual liberty: the creativity and entrepreneurship unleashed by protecting, defending and advancing the basic freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

And the fourth, equal opportunity: our shared belief that every one of us has the potential to contribute to the success of our companies, our communities and our country.

These are the values that make and keep America exceptional—and they are the values that should guide our leaders.

One of our most urgent causes, of course, is what brings us together today: building a bigger and more diverse manufacturing workforce.

Over the next decade, studies show manufacturers will have 3.5 million jobs to fill…but 2 million of them will remain empty…unless we do something now.

Together we must encourage the public, especially young people, to view our industry as more than the gritty factories of the past…by showing them the diverse and challenging career opportunities we offer.

And we must expand access to education, training and credentialing—especially in the STEM fields—which students will need to succeed as dreamers, makers and doers.

As we pursue these initiatives, we must make clear that manufacturers’ doors are wide open to women of all backgrounds and capabilities—from computer science to marketing. Generations fought for their rightful places on the shop floor and in the science lab…on the engineering team and in the C-suite. Looking at a roomful like this, it could be tempting to declare victory.

But here’s the reality, and we all know it: women are still underrepresented in manufacturing. And that means lost opportunity for workers and families and for manufacturers of all sizes and sectors.

That’s why your example matters so much.  

You know, things are different when you have children. I have two daughters, C.J. and Ellie, and they have deepened my commitment to ensuring that today’s girls are given every chance to shape their own tomorrows.

So I am glad to be a part of an organization, the NAM, where empowerment is central to our mission. I’m proud to work with the Institute and Jennifer McNelly. And I am pleased to have this moment to honor all of you.

But in closing, I also want to ask something of you. Please, keep sharing your stories, your insights and your enthusiasm for manufacturing—whether it’s on Capitol Hill or in your hometown.

Only with more voices like yours, raised in unison with your colleagues, will we conquer political negativity, embrace opportunity and unleash the potential of this generation…and the next.

Again, thank you for all that you do. And congratulations.

2016 STEP Ahead Honorees Are Here

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They’re coming! The 2016 STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders will officially be welcomed to Washington, D.C., tonight to kick-off this year’s award program.

Did you know that while women represent nearly half (47 percent) of today’s workforce, they comprise less than one-third (27 percent) of the manufacturing workforce? However, while manufacturing faces a serious skills gap, this year’s 2016 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leaders are working to advocate, mentor, engage, promote and lead the next generation of manufacturing women. This year’s Honorees are making a difference in their communities and for the future of manufacturing. Read More


The Housing Data Were Weaker Than Expected in March

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The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that new housing starts fell 8.8 percent, down from an annualized 1,194,000 in February to 1,089,000 in March. This was a surprising drop, with the consensus estimate calling for roughly 1,180,000 units being started for the month. Both single-family (down from 841,000 to 764,000) and multifamily (down from 353,000 to 325,000) starts were lower for the month, with declines in every region except for the Northeast. Single-family activity slowed to a five-month low, whereas the highly volatile multifamily component decreased to its slowest pace in 13 months.

With that said, residential construction has been one of the better aspects in the U.S. economy over the past year, and even with the sharp decline in this report, housing starts rose by 14.2 percent year-over-year, up from 954,000 in March 2015. The bulk of that growth stemmed from the single-family segment, which has increased 22.6 percent year-over-year. Read More


Producer Prices for Final Goods and Services Decreased by 0.1% in March

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that producer prices for final goods and services decreased by 0.1 percent in March, falling for the second straight month. The March decrease, however, stemmed mainly from services. The producer prices for final demand goods rose by 0.2 percent in March, increasing for the first time since June. Energy costs jumped 1.8 percent for the month on higher crude oil prices, which was enough to offset a decline of 0.9 percent on food prices. The decline for food costs in March for producers came largely from sharp drops in prices for eggs and fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lower prices for coffee, pork, poultry and shortening and cooking oils. Food costs have trended lower over the past 12 months, down 2.5 percent, with energy prices off 13.8 percent year-over-year. Read More


Total Manufacturing Job Separations Reached a Post-Recession High in February

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Total separations (e.g., quits, layoffs, retirements) in manufacturing rose to the highest level since the end of the Great Recession in February. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that total separations in the sector increased from 266,000 in January to 302,000 in February. In contrast, manufacturers hired 277,000 workers in February, edging up slightly from 274,000 in January. As a result, net hiring – or hires minus separations – decreased by 25,000 in February, illustrating just how much manufacturers have pulled back on employment in light of slower demand and production growth. Read More

personal spending

Personal Spending Data Reflect a Public That Continues to Hold Back on Purchases

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The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that personal spending rose 0.1 percent in February. More importantly, personal consumption expenditures were revised sharply lower for January, up just 0.1 percent instead of the original estimate of a 0.5 percent gain for the month. As such, the rebound seen in the prior report evaporated, suggesting that the public remains hesitant when opening their wallets. Durable goods expenditures increased by 0.3 percent in February, boosted by growth in autos and furniture spending, but have declined in three of the past four months. In contrast, purchases of nondurable goods fell for the second straight month, off 0.3 percent in February.

With slower spending, the savings rate inched up to 5.4 percent, its highest level in 12 months. On a year-over-year basis, personal spending has risen 3.8 percent since February 2015, down from 3.9 percent in the prior release. Therefore, even as Americans are apparently holding back somewhat, consumer spending continues to expand modestly overall. Read More