Manufacturers believe the best has yet to come

With well over 1 million jobs created by business owners already this year, it's safe to say that the economy has been on quite the winning streak. Chief among those industries churning out jobs in droves is manufacturing, and professionals within the industry believe the sector has more room for growth. 

Approximately 9 in 10 manufacturers express confidence about what the future holds for their companies, according to the National Association of Manufacturers' Outlook Survey. Performed four times per year, the survey's 95.1 percent of respondents projecting optimism is an all-time high, tracing back to 1998 when the NAM first conducted the analysis.

Driving manufacturers' positivity are continued gains in employment and the expectation that the hiring trend will continue. Additionally, they're predicting a 4 percent increase in investments and a 2.7 percent increase in wages over the next 12 months.

Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO, said some of the manufacturing sector's performance is credited to lawmakers on Capitol Hill after updating the tax code.

"This record optimism is no accident," Timmons explained. "It is fueled by the game-changing tax reform passed six months ago. Last year, manufacturers promised that we would deliver for our people and our communities if tax reform became law."

Timmons went on to say lawmakers came through and manufacturers are repaying the favor by improving benefits, buying equipment, expanding and raising wages.

"And the best part is, with manufacturers' record-setting confidence and plans to keep hiring and growing, more good news is yet to come," Timmons further stated.

Slight uptick in unemployment a good sign
Meanwhile, with more manufacturers gainfully employed, the jobless rate for the U.S. overall rose slightly in June. Increasing to 4 percent, it's the first time since March that the rate of joblessness has been at or above 4 percent. Economists attribute the modest uptick to job seekers re-starting the employment hunt, with newfound confidence in their ability to find work.

Referring to the slight increase in unemployment, The Washington Post Editorial Board described it as "good news," because it reflected approximately 600,000 previously discouraged workers looking for new jobs again.

The summer is poised to be a successful season both for employers and individuals looking to take advantage of more job opportunities in manufacturing. Sixteen percent of hiring managers said they'll be devoting more of their energies to recruitment over the next few months, among the top three industries hiring, The Harris Poll found. Customer service, information technology and office support were tied at 25 percent, followed by 18 percent of engineering firms.

Understanding that they're competing with other businesses, these same industries are willing to pay more as an incentive for candidates to sign on with them. Approximately 25 percent of respondents in the Harris Poll said they'll be paying seasonal workers at least double the minimum wage, and 88 percent intend to offer permanent positions to some of these summer hires when the season concludes.

Manufacturers average annual salary tops $82,000
From a compensation perspective, manufacturers pay top dollar for experienced personnel. The average annual salary for professionals in the industry is approximately $82,000, based on the figures compiled by the National Association of Manufacturers. That's nearly $20,000 more than the average among nonfarm businesses overall. 

Irina Novoselsky, president and chief operating officer at CareerBuilder, stressed that the next few months can serve as an opportunity for advancement  in a variety of sectors, manufacturers included.

"Employers are becoming more competitive with pay and offering more long-term employment opportunities to summer workers," Novoelsky explained. "It's a great way for workers to add new skills, build up their resumes and expand their professional networks."

Manufacturers were in hiring mode in June, continuing the industry's growth trend.