Manufacturers see sales growth, but worker shortages and political uncertainty remain open questions

By Stephen Elliott, Nashville Post

Manufacturers around the country expect more growth this year, according to a recent survey from local accounting firm LBMC, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t doubts to manage. Business leaders cite political uncertainty and a limited workforce as they cautiously predict a rosy future.

LBMC surveyed 350 manufacturing executives, a whopping 81 percent of whom said they expected revenues to rise in 2019. Half of those execs said organic growth in the United States would be their primary opportunity to increase sales.

“Looking ahead, manufacturers expect raw materials, labor costs, lack of available talent and competition to be significant hurdles in 2019,” says John Mark McDougal, LBMC’s manufacturing industry leader.

According to LBMC, manufacturers’ optimism about the economy has increased by more than 12 points over the past two years. But another study, conducted by Middle Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, finds a bleaker outlook. Their Business Barometer Index, a survey of 77 business leaders around the state, dropped from 525 in October 2018 to 355 in January. That was the lowest number since before the 2016 presidential election.

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