Last updateMon, 26 Jul 2021 9pm

Manufacturing Employees Working from Home Up 11% in 2020

The number of employed persons working at home on days they worked nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, rising to 42%, according to the latest American Time Use Survey from the U.S. Department of Labor. Among those working in manufacturing, the number jumped 11% from 18.9% in 2019 to 29.9% in 2020. Average travel time, such as commuting to work or driving to a store, decreased for all demographic groups. 

Small Business Optimism at Eight-Month High

The National Federation of Independent Business Optimism Index increased by 2.9 points in June to 102.5, the first time the Index exceeded 100 since last November. Seven of the 10 Index components improved and three declined. Small businesses continue to struggle to find workers to fill open positions which are historically at record-high levels. 46% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down 2 points from May but still far above the 48-year historical average of 22%. 

New Executive Order Could Spell Trouble for Manufacturers

The Biden administration released an executive order (EO) last week that is intended to enhance competition. While agencies still need to draft regulations in response to the EO, this plan could have a big and potentially negative impact on manufacturers in several sectors, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The following sectors are included:

Antitrust provisions: The EO directs the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to reexamine previously completed mergers and review the guidelines for both horizontal and vertical mergers.

“Right to repair”: Another key target of the EO was the so-called “right to repair”—the ability of third parties to repair sophisticated equipment, like tractors, without involving the manufacturer.

Health Care: The EO also covers certain practices in the health care and pharmaceutical industries.

Technology: The EO addresses technology policy in a number of ways, most prominently urging the reinstatement of “net neutrality” rules imposed by the Obama administration.

Transportation: Lastly, the EO addresses certain practices by railroads, airlines and other sectors in transportation.

Learn more about how these proposed changes could affect manufacturers.

Global Consumer Confidence at All-Time High

Global consumer confidence ticked up to another record high in the second quarter of 2021, according to The Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey, as economic activity improved, mobility restrictions were loosened, vaccines were distributed, and COVID-19 cases declined in many regions. But concerns over health, economic recovery, and job prospects remained for many consumers worldwide amid an uneven reemergence from COVID-19. 

May U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Up 11% from April

U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders totaled $448 million in May 2021, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report published by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). May 2021 orders increased 11% over April orders and were nearly double that of May 2020. Total orders for 2021 topped $2 billion two months before that milestone was reached in 2020.

“Given the state of the economy last year, orders were expected to be up, but so far, 2021 is shaping up to be a historic year,” said Douglas K. Woods, AMT president. “In only three other years since 1998 have orders surpassed $2 billion by May. Manufacturers across the industry have expressed broadly positive sentiment, so we would expect the remainder of the year not only to return to the pre-pandemic trend but also to exceed previous forecasts. 

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