Preparing for a “soft landing” seemed to be the key theme of the economic forecast provided to members of our NC Manufacturing Council by Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, this week.
While some are trying to talk us into a recession, manufacturers are busy – employment is robust, wage growth continues to be solid, and everyone is fighting for talent.
What they're saying: NC Manufacturing Council members agreed that many of the trends seen in the survey data rang true for North Carolina.
By the numbers: Closing out 2022, nearly 70% of manufacturers had a positive outlook, about 20 percentage points lower than a year prior.
Manufacturers cite attracting and retaining quality workforce as their top concern with supply chain and inflation coming in behind that to round out the top three.
While 62.4% of manufacturers expect us to slip into a recession in 2023, Moutray feels we are talking ourselves into it. He is watching the slow drip of layoffs in the tech sector but said several times that the risk of a soft landing is better than we think.
Only three sectors reported positive growth in production – aerospace, primary metals, and nonmetallic mineral products. Overall demand weakened as we ended 2022 and began 2023.
The manufacturing sector has experienced very solid job growth over the last couple years and stands just shy of 13 million workers. Job openings continue to be elevated and churn is slowing.
The bottom line: Talent challenges are not going anywhere as Moutray reminds us that there are more job openings than people actively looking for work with 11 million job openings in the U.S. and 5.7 million unemployed Americans. This is pushing up wages, particularly at entry level, as every sector struggles for workers.
Last year closed with GDP numbers up 2.1% overall, and Moutray is estimating 1.3% this year, with softer growth that he expects us to come out of toward the end of the year.
The GBA is here to help. GBA Program, Talent Partnership of Gaston County, builds and manages talent pipelines for critical industry needs in Gaston County, NC. We connect talent in education networks to employers-of-choice. Learn more information about Talent Partnership here.