Slow but Steady

A couple national manufacturing studies out this week highlight the continuing resurgence of American manufacturing. The economy may not be roaring back with any real speed, but it’s seeing steady growth.

Respondents to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch CFO Outlook survey gave the U.S. economy an average score of 58 out of 100, up from 49 in the previous survey conducted in late 2012. Much of the optimism comes from America’s growth in exports, with 76 percent of CFOs reporting some type of activity in foreign markets.

This strength in foreign markets was highlighted in a report by The Boston Consulting Group. BCG said exports have been growing more than seven times faster than GDP since 2005. Looking forward, these consultants predict that the United States will capture $70 billion to $115 billion in annual exports from other nations by the end of the decade.

These surveys cover the entirety of U.S. manufacturing, so the trends are far more important to our industry than the actual data points. Other recent surveys will provide more industry-specific statistics.

IPC has recently released a pair of documents that focus on segments of this industry. The 2012-2013 Analysis and Forecast for the PCB Industry in North America predicts modest growth for this year. Tepid expansion should continue through 2016.

In electronics manufacturing services, The Global EMS Business Report said that even though 2013 started out slow, there should be growth in every region during the rest of the year. This report has been upgraded — it includes data that’s never been published before. It covers sales and order growth and book-to-bill ratios for each region. Industry confidence indices, based on the participating companies’ own projections for the next quarter and the next year, are also reported.

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