Since the recession years of the late 2000s, the manufacturing industry in the US has been working to rebound.  In 2016, there are mixed signals and confusion over how the manufacturing industry is doing.  Articles and reports are coming out on a regular basis, talking about how this specific market is up, while another is down and even others that are staying flat.  Many of the stories seem to be written with a positive spin to show only positive numbers, looking for anyway to portray that manufacturing is as strong as it’s been in years.  At Universal Polymer we work with customers in a number of markets, and have seen firsthand the differences in the health of these markets.

Economic Uncertainty

A recent report from the Federal Reserve said that factory production dropped 0.4 percent in August, after an increase of 0.4 percent in July.  From a year ago factory output is also down 0.4 percent.  This after multiple reports showing strong gains in June and July this year that seemed to signal that the manufacturing industry was beginning to turn a corner.  Industrial output which includes areas like mines and utilities also dropped 0.4 percent.  U.S utility output fell 1.4 percent in August after 2 consecutive months of strong gains that reflected the seasonal use of air conditioning during the hot summer weather.  Mining production actually rose 1 percent, and is on a trend of increases after a long period of declines, but yet is still 9.3 percent lower than a year ago.

All of the numbers that come out in these reports seem to show that overall the industry is staying flat.  Headlines saying that manufacturing output stumbled or is slumping are using the most minimal changes in output to determine that.  Reporting every month does not give a truly accurate picture of the trends that are occurring in manufacturing if the difference is only 0.4 percent.  In a previous blog this year we explored how auto sales have been reported to be growing at the fastest pace since 2000 this year, while production numbers have been low and manufacturers have been facing scandals.  This is just another example of the mixed signals over the overall health of the auto industry, which may be considered strong or weak depending on the report you read that week.

At Universal Polymer we work with many different markets and industries and see the challenges that each is facing in today’s economy.  We work with our customers to find solutions to their rubber and plastic extrusions and rubber molding needs and are the only manufacturer of the world famous Gold Line Tarp Straps.  In an industry where the health and outlook seems to change every month, we are consistent in our desire to tackle new challenges and provide answers to our customer’s questions.

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