Minnesota’s Manufacturers Show Surprising Confidence in Future
Bremer Partners with State of Manufacturing
St. Paul, Minn. - February 2, 2009 - Despite the potential ravages of a severe international economic downturn, Minnesota’s manufacturers remain surprisingly confident in their companies’ future prospects, according to the State of Manufacturing, a major survey research project sponsored by Enterprise Minnesota and partners.
A full 79 percent are "confident" about the future of their firms, even though a solid 56 percent predict America’s recession will continue throughout 2009.
The full results of the State of Manufacturing will be revealed at a series of briefings with manufacturers, business leaders, and policymakers throughout Minnesota Monday and Tuesday. A Twin Cities briefing will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, February 2 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Pollster Rob Autry, from Washington D.C. -based Public Opinion Strategies, will provide analysis at the February 2 events.
The pollster conducted phone interviews with 400 manufacturing executives, representing a geographically proportional cross section of Minnesota, over two weeks in December. The poll has an error rate of +/- 4 percent. The research was complemented by seven focus groups of manufacturing executives conducted throughout Minnesota in December and January. The focus groups were conducted by Mason Public Affairs, Inc., a Minneapolis-based public affairs firm, which also managed the project.
Partners for the State of Manufacturing include Bremer Bank, LarsonAllen LLP, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and RJF Agencies. Bob Isaacson, director of communications, analysis and research division at Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, provided ongoing input and support.
"Manufacturers are an optimistic bunch because they’ve been through tough times before," said Bob Kill president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota. "“It’s not unbounded optimism. They know the economy is challenging, yet they also know that downturns are full of opportunities. It’s a chance to reposition, become more competitive, and invest in future long-term growth."
While manufacturers are optimistic about their long-term health, they are more reserved about short-term projections. Only 23 percent believe that their firm’s gross revenue will increase in 2009, 17 percent believe that their profitability will increase, and 19 percent say that their capital expenditures will increase.
The credit crisis: Just nine percent of executives say that any constraints on credit have had a "significant" or "modest" impact on their businesses. Just 13 percent say they are "very concerned" about the availability of capital.
Health Care: Despite bad economic news, the rising costs of health care remains the No. 1 concern of manufacturers. Fully 64 percent say they are concerned about health care costs. Even companies that have been harmed by a constriction of credit say they are more concerned about health care.
Employee Relations: Manufacturers said "stability" (35 percent) is the most important factor in retaining employees. Stability was followed by "pride in the company" (20 percent) and "pride in their work" (19 percent). Remarkably, wages (15 percent) and benefits (six percent) were ranked last.
Wages: Despite the volatile marketplace, 41 percent of manufacturers expect wages to increase over the next two years; 34 percent of those who expect the recession to last through 2009 expect wages will increase during that period.
Kill said the relatively optimistic attitudes of manufacturers should represent cautiously good news to communities who worry about jobs. A recent study DEED found that more than one in ten Minnesota jobs are in manufacturing. Each one of these jobs supports another 1.3 related jobs - meaning that nearly 800,000 jobs in Minnesota are associated with the manufacturing industry. That equals 29 percent of the state's workforce. These manufacturing jobs pay higher than average salaries. In 2007, a manufacturing employee in Minnesota received an average $1005 weekly wage, compared with $853 for all industries combined.
Pollster Rob Autry and Bob Kill, president of Enterprise Minnesota will be available for phone interviews throughout the day. Interviews can be arranged through Nate Duoss of Enterprise Minnesota at (612) 859-9127.
A book containing results, cross tabulations, analysis and transcripts of the focus groups will be released at the briefings. Full information is also available at www.stateofmanufacturing.com.
Enterprise Minnesota is a 501(c) (3) non-profit consulting organization that helps Minnesota manufacturing enterprises grow profitably. Chartered by the Minnesota State Legislature in 1987, Enterprise Minnesota is an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership) (MEP).