Study Finds Manufacturers Optimistic on Economic Prospects

12-month outlook is positive for small/mid-sized businesses

September 1, 2006 -- Almost half of the manufacturers responding to a poll on business prospects are forecasting economic improvement in the coming 12 months, and a full 50% of them expect revenues to increase over the same period. The study was conducted by International Profit Associates, Inc., a provider of management consulting services to small and medium-sized businesses in North America.

The same research showed manufacturers are more optimistic than other industry segments, and many business owners and managers project revenue growth and continued hiring over the coming 12 months.

The IPA Small Business Research Board (IPA SBRB) survey has been tracking the attitudes of small businesses since July 2004. Earlier this year it began reporting quarterly IPA SBRB survey results for various industry segments. The first study measured attitudes among construction and contracting firms, and the second tracked manufacturing prospects.

Almost 40% of small and mid-sized manufacturers expect their revenues to remain about the same over the next 12 months. Among all small businesses in IPA’s study, just 42% believe the economy will improve during the next year and 46% expect revenue growth. Among construction and contracting companies, 26% are confident that the economy will improve, and 40% are estimating that revenues will exceed current levels over the next 12 months.

Regarding employment levels, 38% of manufacturers expect to add to their workforce over the next year, and 45% expect to keep their staffs at the same size. Only 5% of manufactures expect to cut employment levels.

Gregg Steinberg, president of International Profit Associates, observed: “There is a significant variance in the confidence levels of manufacturers versus those of the general small business community and those of construction companies and contractors. By the end of the year, we will be able to determine whether the perceived strength in the manufacturing is based upon existing orders or new contracts.”

“Hopefully, manufacturing will not suffer the same slowdown occurring in the construction sector and that the optimism will turn into reality,” Steinberg added.

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