Stable consumer-driven spending and a strong forecast for business investment bode well for the manufacturing sector, according to the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) U.S. Industrial Outlook.
Manufacturing industrial production increased at a 2.1 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2014, while inflation-adjusted GDP declined 1 percent. Manufacturing production grew faster than demand, thereby creating an inventory buildup that was quickly corrected in April.
Manufacturing production increased 2.6 percent in 2013. MAPI forecasts growth of 3.2 percent in 2014 and 4 percent in 2015, consistent with the March 2014 report.
“Consumer-driven manufacturing growth will be relatively stable, supported by employment gains and rising wages,” said MAPI Chief Economist Daniel Meckstroth. “Households have low debt burdens, and their wealth is rising because of higher stock and home prices.
“Some growth themes that create an incentive for business investment are expanding energy infrastructure, revival of the housing industry supply chain, investment in manufacturing plants, and strong demand for transportation equipment,” Meckstroth said. “Firms are likely to invest thanks to the certainty of the two-year federal budget and the debt ceiling agreement as well as renewed growth in Europe and Japan.”
MAPI anticipates that 20 industries will show gains in 2014, two will remain flat, and paper production will decline. Growth leaders include industrial machinery with a 12-percent increase and housing starts at 10 percent.
The outlook improves even more in 2015, with growth likely in all 23 industries where economic forecasts were offered, led by housing starts at 37 percent and electric lighting equipment at 12 percent.
According to the report, non-high-tech manufacturing production, which accounts for 95 percent of the total, is anticipated to increase 2.9 percent in 2014 and 3.7 percent in 2015. High-tech industrial production including computers and electronic products is projected to expand by 6.6 percent in 2014 and 10.0 percent in 2015.
From February through April 2014, 20 of the 27 industries MAPI monitors had inflation-adjusted new orders or production at or above the level of one year prior (six more than reported last quarter), while four declined and three were flat.
Meckstroth reported that nine industries are in the accelerating growth (recovery) phase of the business cycle, 12 are in the decelerating growth (expansion) phase, four are in the accelerating decline (either early recession or mid-recession) phase, and two are in the decelerating decline (late recession or very mild recession) phase.