“Manufacturers Indicate Increased Optimism for 2018 –
Planning for Potential and Seizing Opportunity is Critical.” – According to Leading Edge Alliance National Manufacturing Outlook Survey

For the second year, YHB and LEA have released the results of the 2018 Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) National Manufacturing Outlook Survey. More than 450 manufacturing executives participated in the survey, which includes the opinions of respondents who produce industrial/machining, transportation/automotive, construction, food and beverage, and other products.

Optimism is high as manufacturers’ responses indicated they have a more positive outlook about the economy for 2018 than in 2017. The growing U.S. and global economies, rising energy and commodity prices, and improved business and consumer confidence support this positive outlook.

Survey results for 2018 include:

  • 81% of manufacturers believe their revenue will increase in 2018, with 72% eyeing organic growth in the U.S. as their primary opportunity to increase sales.
  • Manufacturers are more optimistic about the regional and national economy than the global economy, yet notably the optimism rating for all three has increased by more than 10 points since the 2017 outlook.
  • 62% of manufacturers expect their sectors to grow, more than doubling the 2017 outlook; food and beverage and construction materials cite the highest optimism for sector growth.
  • Manufacturers’ top three priorities are growing sales, cutting costs, and addressing the talent gap.
  • As in past years, labor remains a significant challenge. More than half of survey participants cited the labor shortage as the greatest risk or barrier to growth, and more than half of manufacturers expect to increase hiring.
  • Respondents plan to utilize technology to reduce risks and build a competitive advantage; 75% said that they will investigate/prioritize cybersecurity in 2018, and 50%will investigate/prioritize Big Data/ERP/IoT.
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Despite the improved outlook, hurdles remain. The dichotomy of growing sales while cutting costs may also present a challenge. Through all the potential changes, working with a team of industry-experienced advisors to provide insight and answers continues to be critically important.


About YHB: Yount, Hyde and Barbour (YHB) is a leading certified public accounting and consulting firm with 6 strategic locations. Established in 1947, YHB offers comprehensive accounting, auditing, tax and risk advisory services to clients. In addition to serving individuals, estates and trusts, the firm has extensive experience in working with both public and private businesses.

About LEA: Founded in 1999, LEA Global/The Leading Edge Alliance is the second largest international association in the world, creating a high-quality alliance of 220 independently owned accounting and consulting firms focused on accounting, financial, and business advisory services. LEA Global firms operate in 110 countries, giving clients of LEA Global firms access to the knowledge, skills, and experience of 2321 partners and 24,000 staff members. LEA Global firms’ combined annual revenue totals more than $3 billion. Members stand out as leaders in their markets with firms ranking in the top tiers throughout all regions of the world. In the U.S., more LEA Global firms are in the top 100 than any other association or network.

Please direct all media inquiries to YHB Marketing Director, Jeremy Shen at 540.662.3417 or Jeremy.Shen@yhbcpa.com