Manufacturers in ASQ survey still leery about double dip

While 66 percent of manufacturers expect to experience revenue growth in 2012, many say the recovering economy will remain a major hurdle to operations, according to a new survey by Milwaukee-based ASQ.
Nearly 1,600 manufacturing professionals from around the world responded to ASQ’s 2012 Manufacturing Outlook Survey, which was conducted online from Oct. 17 through Nov. 4. Respondents represent the aerospace, automotive, food, medical device, pharmaceutical and utility industries, among others.
According to the survey results, more than 70 percent of respondents say they experienced revenue growth in 2011. In ASQ’s 2011 Manufacturing Outlook Survey conducted in late 2010, 67 percent had hoped to experience revenue growth in 2011.
Despite the outlook regarding revenue, manufacturers continue to be wary of the global economy, citing the housing market and fears of a double-dip recession. Specifically, some respondents said:
"Customers are scared to release purchase orders. They act differently because of the economy."
"Economic conditions are hurting people’s ability to purchase our products."
"The housing market is not recovering in a timely fashion."
In addition to fears of the world economy, manufacturers say the lack of a qualified workforce is inhibiting their ability to grow. According to the survey results, 44 percent of respondents say finding qualified applicants is the biggest hurdle to filling vacant positions, while 27 percent say budget is a biggest hurdle to filling open positions. Twenty-three percent claim time -and the lack thereof – is the biggest hiring hurdle.
Survey results show few manufacturers think their company will be adversely affected by retirements in 2012.
"While many manufacturers are showing improvement and experiencing revenue growth, there remains clear hurdles facing these businesses," said ASQ CEO Paul Borawski. "Even though companies say retiring baby boomers aren’t adversely affecting their businesses, finding qualified employees is still a concern – one that can affect businesses in this global economy – as retiring employees often leave with a wealth of knowledge not easily replaced."

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