Manufacturing Production Edged Down Slightly in November Following Two Months of Gains

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The Federal Reserve said that manufacturing production edged down slightly in November, off 0.1 percent, after experiencing gains in both September and October. Manufacturers have struggled to increase demand over the past couple years, with a strong dollar and global headwinds dampening overall activity, but recent sentiment surveys – including the most recent one from the NAM – have reflected a rebound in activity. In that light, the latest production data serve as a disappointment, continuing to highlight ongoing struggles for the sector, even as other segments have seen progress. Along those lines, manufacturing production has risen just 0.1 percent on a year-over-year basis, suggesting essentially stagnant growth over the past 12 months. Manufacturing capacity utilization was also lower for the month, down from 74.9 percent to 74.8 percent. That was off from the 75.3 percent rate observed one year ago.   Read More

Let’s Work Smarter, Harder and Together to Protect the Environment

By | Energy, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is releasing in-depth Competing to Win policy papers to equip Congress and the Trump administration with blueprints for delivering on manufacturers’ priorities. Today’s release is the seventh in the series and focuses on the environment. For more on the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition, follow @ShopfloorNAM.

Voters asked for change in 2016, and they are going to get it. Environmental policy is no exception, as the president-elect and congressional leaders have pledged to shift course on many of the regulations put in place by the outgoing administration. We’re going to have to wait until January 20 to see how they will do it, but I think it’s safe to say the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the U.S. regulation and many of the Environmental Protection Agencys most hotly-contested policies are due for a revamp.

One of the most frequent questions I am getting from manufacturers and their employees is what the scope of these regulatory rollbacks will be and what they will mean for overall environmental protection and manufacturers’ strong commitment to sustainability. We’ve made no secret of our distaste for the growing regulatory burden on manufacturers; the average manufacturer spends $10,497 per employee just to comply with environmental regulations, and small manufacturers spend double that amount. But we also want to improve the environment, economic performance and the social well-being of the employees, communities, customers and consumers we serve. We just want to do it in a way that fosters innovations instead of the overly prescriptive regulations that have created roadblocks and uncertainty in recent years. Regulation done wrong actually harms how rapidly we can achieve our environmental goals.

The NAM is excited to share with President-elect Donald Trump and congressional leaders Competing to Win: Sustainability and the Environment, the NAM’s aggressive plan of action to improve the environment for all.

This is, perhaps, a different paper than you might have been expecting from us. We haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with the Obama administration on how best to confront climate change, protect air and water, limit waste, conserve resources and protect biodiversity. But let me be abundantly clear: manufacturers are absolutely committed to confronting climate issues, protecting air and water, limiting waste, conserving resources and protecting biodiversity. We’ve been doing it for decades and getting results. It’s in our DNA. And we want the federal government to work with us, not against us, to drive a more sustainable future for the United States and the world.

  • This plan sets forth concrete steps manufacturers hope our leaders will take to foster new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address global climate change, so manufacturers can be the solution here and around the world.
  • Our plan sets forth recommendations to strengthen stewardship of water resources and foster local, state and federal cooperation.
  • Finally, our plan sets forth proposals to create more balanced, effective regulations and modernize outdated environmental laws to better address 21st-century environmental challenges.

Now is the time to think big, and that’s what we’re doing—as part of our ongoing effort to be the solution. The election did not make our environmental challenges disappear, and we’re not about to pretend that it did. Manufacturers have embraced sustainability because it’s good business and it’s the right thing to do. We’re confident our leaders in Washington will agree.

To view the blueprint, click here.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Timmons: Perry Uniquely Suited to Lead

By | Communications, Energy, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement on the nomination of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as secretary of energy:

“Everything is bigger in Texas, and the Lone Star State’s history of energy development is no exception. As the longest-serving Texas governor, Rick Perry was the state’s chief executive during a transformative energy renaissance, making him uniquely suited to lead the Department of Energy in a Trump–Pence administration.

“As a friend of manufacturing, Gov. Perry understands the need to develop a wide range of energy sources here in the United States. Manufacturers depend on a reliable supply of domestic energy—from oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewables—to build, innovate and create jobs here in America. We are encouraged that President-elect Donald Trump and Gov. Perry share our belief in encouraging the discovery and development of American energy in addition to making smart investments to improve energy efficiency.

“Strengthening manufacturing in America means getting our energy policy right, and President-elect Trump’s nomination of Gov. Perry is a promising first step.”


CONTACT: Jennifer Drogus, (202) 637-3090

NAM Outlook Survey: Increased Optimism About the Next Year, but Also More Uncertainty

By | Shopfloor Economics, Shopfloor Main | No Comments


There is a sense of optimism in the air as we end 2016, especially since the election. Americans appear to be cautiously upbeat about growth moving forward, and equity markets have reached all-time highs, largely on a belief that the new administration will bring needed tax and regulatory reforms and a significant infrastructure package. At the same time, there are also lingering headwinds for many manufacturers, including still-soft demand for exports, largely due to the strong U.S. dollar. Yet, there were signs of stabilization in the second half of 2016. Surveys have largely reported improved sentiment in recent months, with better demand and output data as well as modest growth.

This includes the NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, with the percentage of respondents who are positive about their own company’s performance at a nearly two-year high. Indeed, 77.8 percent of manufacturers are either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook in the latest survey, up from 61.0 percent in September. This was the highest level since the March 2015 survey and ended the five-quarter streak with this headline measure being below its historical average of 73.1 percent. However, the outlook figure remains below its recent peak—achieved in December 2014—of 91.2 percent of respondents being positive. Read More

Manufacturers’ Prescription for Health Care

By | Health Care, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

After the economy and jobs, Americans rate health care as their top public policy concern. And the majority of Americans (54 percent) disapprove of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the Pew Research Center.

No one understands the frustrations of our health care system quite like manufacturers. In the National Association of Manufacturers most recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, rising health care and insurance costs ranked as a top business challenge among NAM members (74.8 percent), slightly ahead of an unfavorable business climate (73.6 percent). There are a host of factors that lead to this frustration, and many feel trapped in a problem that is of the government’s making.

Americans deserve better than this. We are a nation that prides itself on first-class, best-in-the-world medical care. Our institutions, public and private, continue to lead the world on patient care, lifesaving treatments and medical research. But we have to keep working to control or lower the cost of coverage through reasonable approaches.

So manufacturers, through our “Competing to Win” agenda and health care policy blueprint, are calling on the next Congress and administration to find solutions that will successfully eliminate the costliest and most problematic aspects of the ACA:

  • The 40 percent tax on employee benefits and other mandated taxes
  • Onerous administrative requirements
  • Upward pressure on medical liability costs

Manufacturers also believe reform should have some key goals:

  • Encourage flexibility and data sharing
  • Allow for new innovations in coverage options rather than locking in one model
  • Provide consumers more information to make better choices

Manufacturers recognize that providing health care coverage is a necessity to remain competitive in attracting talent and maintaining a healthy, stable workforce. It’s what is right for employees.

Ninety-eight percent of manufacturers offer health insurance to employees, and when asked about how they might react to increasing costs for offering health care in an NAM survey of members, only 1.6 percent planned to stop providing coverage.

Without action from our leaders, manufacturers have innovated with their own solutions to improve health care:

  • Opting for new plans and payment arrangements
  • Bringing medical care, pharmacy services and wellness programs on-site or near-site
  • Focusing on addressing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and asthma

If President-elect Donald Trump and the next Congress follow manufacturers’ lead, our people and our economy will be healthier for it.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Timmons: Tillerson Staunch Force for Dignity and Opportunity

By | Communications, Energy, Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement on the nomination of ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state:


President-elect Donald Trump has chosen an expert negotiator to run the business of American diplomacy. A great friend to the NAM, Rex Tillerson has spent his life making deals and getting results; now he can put his incomparable experience, talents and connections to work on behalf of our entire country. Manufacturers are encouraged to see a leader from the manufacturing economy take on the role of America’s chief diplomat, and we are pleased that Rex will bring a business perspective to the State Department.

“Beyond his rockstar business credentials, Rex has been a staunch force for the dignity and opportunity of all citizens and will no doubt work to make our nation and our world a better place. For all of his stellar accomplishments, Rex and his wife Renda are incredibly humble, decent and relatable people of the highest character. I wish them both the best in this important endeavor and much success in the critical work that is ahead for Rex.”


(Left to Right) Timmons, Tillerson and Tenneco Inc. Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Gregg Sherrill. Photo by David Bohrer/NAM

CONTACT: Jennifer Drogus, (202) 637-3090

Sustainability in the Fabric of our Family Business

By | General, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Sustainability | No Comments

By Mariel McAllister, Director of Public Relations, Leigh Fibers, Inc.

Leigh Fibers, based in Wellford, S.C., is a nearly 100-year-old family-owned business that uses sustainable product engineering to create branded products and specialty fibers that provide unique solutions to specific problems. Sustainability is literally embedded in the fabric of what we do every day. It is what has allowed us to be in business for generations, providing high-value products to consumers and serving as a bedrock of the Wellford community.

The company’s strong commitment to providing sustainable products and solutions led to its acquisition of ICE Recycling in 2014. ICE recycling2reprocesses post-industrial polymers, cardboard, paper and metals for companies throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. With the acquisition of ICE, we are able to serve as a sustainability force-multiplier by helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals. The company provides full zero to landfill services or individual waste stream management utilizing both on-site waste-stream management as well as off-site reprocessing services. In late 2015, SmartVista, a third sister company was founded to aid in the company’s commitment to providing technical and sustainable solutions for a diverse range of industries.

While Leigh has been in business for nearly a century, there are still hurdles to overcome in the recycling market. Leigh strives to educate manufacturers around the world about their waste and the value it would serve to a diverse range of end users. The company drives value through the entire process to benefit the waste generator in addition to the end user. Since the decline in commodity prices over the past few years, Leigh Fibers and ICE Recycling have the unique challenge of educating end users of the benefits they gain from using recycled materials. For our customers who decide to use recycled materials, we help them limit their environmental footprint, while still offering a quality product.

recycling1Leigh and ICE have built a unique infrastructure for handling waste streams that includes initial segregation of the waste, size reduction, repurposing and consolidation. Not only is Leigh the largest textile recycler in North America, but the company is seen as a solution provider among their suppliers and customers. Leigh Fibers offers guidance to their suppliers regarding equipment, packaging and recycling solutions, while ICE Recycling offers a turn-key recycling solution for industrial facilities that want to generate value from their waste streams or those committed to being land fill free.

Leigh Fibers was built on a foundation of providing sustainable solutions and products, which has allowed the company to divert more than 700 million tons of textile waste and byproducts from landfills over the past century.

Make Regulations and Our Legal System Great Again

By | Regulations, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Regulatory and legal reform are key components of our “Competing to Win” agenda, and with a new Congress and new president taking office next month, we are proposing detailed solutions to create a smarter and efficient system of governance and eliminate government-imposed barriers to economic growth and job creation.

President-elect Donald Trump has asserted that regulatory reform is a “cornerstone of the Trump administration” and that his team will be “committed to regulatory reform that will produce sensible regulations that allow America to be great.” This is music to manufacturers’ ears.

Manufacturers Face an Immense Regulatory Burden

  • In constant 2009 dollars, federal spending for regulatory agencies tripled from $16.46 billion ($72.44 per person) in 1980 to $50.09 billion ($155.84 per person) in 2015.
  • Through October 2016, the current administration has issued 637 major new regulations, translating to a new major regulation once every 4.46 days.
  • These regulations are placed on top of the thousands of requirements with which manufacturers must already comply, and regulators make no effort to repeal or modify duplicative or unnecessary requirements that exist.

Reforming Our Regulatory System Equals Jobs

  • Regulatory decisions must focus on outcomes to improve the quality of regulations: Agencies should be forced to thoughtfully examine existing regulations and their cumulative costs to improve the effectiveness of existing and new rules. Importantly, sound regulatory analysis should be strengthened and codified so that regulatory decisions are based on the best available science.
  • Regulators must be held accountable with improved oversight to improve the quality of the regulations they issue. Independent regulatory agencies should comply with universally accepted sound regulatory principles, and Congress should improve its oversight of all regulating agencies.
  • Fairness should be restored to our legal system so that manufacturers and individuals in need of relief do not fall victim to opportunism. There should be clear standards for liability, and disincentives for filing frivolous lawsuits should be reinstated.

We are urging President-elect Trump and our leaders in the government to listen to manufacturers and follow our roadmap to expanding our economy and reforming our system of governance. Regulatory and legal reform alone could dramatically improve companies’ ability to grow in America. We should not miss this opportunity.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

WIIN Act a Long-Awaited Victory for Manufacturers

By | Communications, Infrastructure, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement after final passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN):

There’s no better way to end the 114th Congress than with a long-awaited victory for manufacturers. With WIIN, we can keep our manufactured goods moving on America’s waterways. We can get our products to market more quickly—certainly a win for customers and a win for the men and women who make those products. But now, let’s take it to the next level. The next Congress and new administration should build on this achievement with a bigger, comprehensive plan for infrastructure renewal, as laid out in the NAM’s ‘Building to Win’ infrastructure initiative.

There is so much more we have to build if we’re going to grow manufacturing and lead in the world economy. Manufacturers are encouraged that President-elect Donald Trump is committed to infrastructure investment, including for our waterways, and has even cited ‘Building to Win’ in his campaign platform. We’re ready to get to work and look forward to the new opportunities in the new year.


CONTACT: Jennifer Drogus, (202) 637-3090

Reforming Labor Regulations to Improve Job Opportunities

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This level of volatility and policy uncertainty harms manufacturers and their employees who cannot rely on past reasonable interpretations of the law when planning to invest in new workers. Instead, issues that were thought to be previously settled have been up for grabs.

A recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) study calculated the cost of recent labor regulations to the economy:

  • $85 billion
  • More than 400 million hours of paperwork
  • Up to 155,000 jobs over the next 10 years

America faces a severe shortage of skilled workers to meet the current demand and projected future demand in manufacturing.

Unfortunately, labor policies from the Obama administration have made it harder to maintain and grow a flexible workforce to handle today’s manufacturing challenges. We need policies that support flexibility and innovation.

Elections do have consequences, and change may be on the horizon. Unfortunately, the degree to which the Obama administration has overturned longstanding labor law precedent is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

To restore balance, the next administration should do the following:

  • Repeal unnecessarily costly rules that hamper job creation.
  • Appoint National Labor Relations Board members committed to the rule of law and fair treatment of employees and employers, who will rescind ill-informed rules and adjudications.
  • Take a new approach to encouraging good policies in the workplace, rather than attempting to “shame” companies.

The specifics are all laid out in the NAM’s new “Competing to Win” blueprint on labor policy, which we have shared directly with President-elect Donald Trump’s team.

Labor policy needs to adapt to modern workforce needs, rather than turn the clock back. The past eight years have taken us backward by well-established laws without any justification.

Employees, organized labor, management and lawmakers should collaborate in search of outcomes that deliver a positive work environment, opportunities for employee professional growth and safe and healthy facilities.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.