Minnesota manufacturers continue to thrive in a strong economy, but a
severe worker shortage overshadows their growth and profitability.
According to the 11th annual State of Manufacturing®,
a comprehensive survey project sponsored by Enterprise Minnesota and its
partners, manufacturers have retained their near-record levels of
optimism since 2018 while also taking steps to alleviate the negative
impacts of the ongoing worker shortage. More than half (54 percent) are
focused on maximizing productivity, with efforts such as automation and
continuous improvement, to combat the worker shortage.
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A whopping 93 percent of executives reported feeling confident about the
futures of their companies, a near-record 59 percent expect increases in
gross revenue and 45 percent project increases in profitability.
Fifty-eight percent expect employee wages to increase this year.
However, executives aren’t as enthusiastic about the performance of the
U.S. economy, with only 49 percent predicting an expansion – that’s a
15-point drop from the 2018 State of Manufacturing survey results.
At 48 percent, nearly half of executives pinpointed the inability to
attract qualified workers as the biggest impediment to growth, a
14-point increase since 2017. Seventy-one percent said the worker
shortage made things difficult, particularly for rural companies (76
percent) and larger companies with revenues of more than $5 million (84
percent). Faced with this, most manufacturers say they are addressing
the worker shortage with efforts to maximize productivity and 76 percent
would emphasize improving “people development and process improvement
equally.” Of concern, however, there is little investment (6 to 13
percent depending on company size) by companies to provide leadership
training for employees. Yet, notably, respondents said that maximizing
productivity is second only to “finding new customers” as an “important
driver of future growth.”
Some results varied widely depending on the geographic region of the
state, with the western half reporting greater pessimism about the
economy. No matter the region, however, the costs of providing health
care coverage continues to be a major concern among executives, as it
has for all 11 years of the survey.
“Despite economic uncertainty, Minnesota manufacturers are thriving and
feeling confident about the futures of their companies,” said Bob Kill,
Enterprise Minnesota president and CEO. “But the biggest factor casting
a shadow on that enthusiasm is the ongoing worker shortage, which has no
end in sight. The organizations that can weather the shortage and
continue their strong growth will be the ones that have leveraged the
appropriate combination of automation, productivity strategies,
effective leadership, team development and strategic planning.”
The results of the survey will be presented at a series of regional
events throughout Minnesota from May 14 to June 20 in Minneapolis,
Bemidji, Owatonna, Buffalo, Alexandria, Willmar and Duluth. Click
here for event details.
Bob Kill, president & CEO of Enterprise Minnesota, is available for
media interviews. Interviews can be arranged through Lynn Shelton
612-455-4215 or Chris Morse 612-455-4213 of Enterprise Minnesota.
Rob Autry, president of Meeting
Street Research has been pollster for all 11 years of the survey.
Throughout the month of March, he conducted telephone interviews with
more than 500 manufacturing executives representing a geographically
proportional cross-section of Minnesota. The survey was complemented by
13 focus groups of manufacturing leaders led by Enterprise Minnesota.
The poll has an error rate of +/- 4.9 percent.
Full survey top-line results and cross tabulations are available at www.stateofmanufacturing.com.
Platinum sponsors for The State of Manufacturing are: Bremer
Equity Partners, Gray
Plant Moody, King
Solutions, the Minnesota
Department of Economic Development and Employment (DEED), Olsen
Thielen CPAs and Advisors, and Widseth
About Enterprise Minnesota
Minnesota is an ISO
9001:2015 certified consulting organization that works with medium
and smaller manufacturing enterprises to help them compete and grow
profitably, and also serves as the “voice” for the industry, raising
visibility and appreciation for the value manufacturers provide our
communities and the state’s economy. Our affiliation with the Manufacturing
Extension Partnership (MEP) further positions us to offer clients
leading-edge services to improve manufacturing operations and strengthen
In the last five years alone Enterprise Minnesota has helped over 510
Minnesota manufacturing companies gain access to strategies that
increase efficiency and promote growth. Resulting from the
organization’s work, clients have realized a total positive economic
impact of over $696 million in sales, reduced costs by over $131
million, invested over $289 million in capital expenditures and
modernization and added or retained over 6,600 jobs.