To some extent, a commentary essay by David Farr and Jay Timmons is a bit of a promotional spot for their organizations and the manufacturing industry generally, but this is broadly encouraging:
At the end of 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers surveyed its membership and the results were recording-breaking. Almost 95 percent of respondents felt positive about the outlook of their businesses — an all-time high in the survey’s 20-year history.
From our perch in Rhode Island, however, it’s difficult not to gulp a little at this:
Manufacturers’ newfound confidence didn’t happen by accident. Major developments in Washington, D.C., dramatically improved the business climate in the United States, most notably regulatory relief and, at the end of the year, historic tax reform.
It all freed up time, energy and resources that would otherwise have gone toward complying with complicated federal rules and the highest tax rates in the developed world. As a result, manufacturers are investing in their people and communities. We’re seeing story after story of businesses expanding their operations, offering raises or bonuses, buying new equipment and hiring new workers.
It’s early, yet, for state-level analysis, but early indications from economic data suggest that the national surge has been weaker in Rhode Island, if it hasn’t been passing us by entirely. We need to impress upon our elected officials that they must change the approach of state government.