Optimism for World Economic Outlook Improves

Moderate revenue growth expected in 2013; investment spending plans increase; emphasis on R&D and new products; hiring plans reach high


The latest barometer also showed that hiring plans are on the rise, with expectations reaching the highest level in five years and the second highest quarterly percentage in the past 10 years. The majority, 58 percent of U.S. industrial manufacturers surveyed, plan to add employees to their workforce over the next 12 months, up 16 points from second quarter 2013 estimates. Only 3 percent plan to reduce the number of full-time equivalent employees and 39 percent plan to stay about the same. The most sought-after employees are skilled labor (35 percent), professionals/technicians (35 percent) and production workers (30 percent).

Despite healthy hiring expectations, the survey identified headwinds in securing qualified workers. Three-fourths (77 percent) of respondents cited a need to fill certain skill gaps over the next 12 to 24 months, with only 23 percent claiming to have all the right skills needed at present. The biggest skill gaps were in middle management (70 percent) and skilled labor (67 percent). At the same time, half of U.S. industrial product organizations admitted to having open positions that they were unable to fill with skilled employees.

“In a limited job market, it is troublesome that three-fourths of panelists reported a skill gap, with half of those companies acknowledging difficulty in filling these key positions,” Bono commented.

Regarding potential growth barriers over the next 12 months, legislative/regulatory pressures were the most cited at 58 percent. Lack of demand was the second most cited barrier at 45 percent, but it was down from 67 percent a year ago when it was the chief barrier to growth. Competition from foreign markets was also high at 32 percent. Other potential barriers on the rise in the third quarter included lack of qualified workers (22 percent), capital constraints (20 percent) and oil/energy prices (28 percent).

PwC's Manufacturing Barometer is a quarterly survey based on interviews with 60 senior executives of large, multinational U.S. industrial manufacturing companies about their current business performance, the state of the economy and their expectations for growth over the next 12 months. This survey summarizes the results for Q3 2013 and was conducted from July 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013. 

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