United States

The challenges facing middle-market manufacturers


The manufacturing industry has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Technology is evolving at a dizzying pace and machinery has become increasingly sophisticated. Job openings for skilled workers continue to grow, yet the number of available skilled workers has actually decreased.

The global landscape has changed as well: Overall, we have seen slow economic growth in the past eight years since the recovery started; wage growth has stagnated. China has surpassed the United States as the world’s largest economy. These have been rough economic times for Brazil and Russia; the political and economic turmoil in the Middle East has remained uncertain; and oil prices have fallen as production capabilities have grown. 

Meanwhile, we’ve seen major economic changes, both negative and positive, within the United States. The number of retail jobs has exceeded manufacturing as manufacturing jobs continue to be shipped overseas to take advantage of lower labor costs and access to necessary skills. In addition, agriculture- and commodity-based industries—such as energy and heavy equipment—have continued to struggle. On the other end of the spectrum, automobile sales have increased steadily for over five years (along with aerospace production); and the construction of homes, apartments and commercial buildings in major cities has gained tremendous strength.

Put the industry and global changes together and you are faced with a challenging business environment. What is a middle-market manufacturer to do?

The RSM Manufacturing Monitor, now in its 11th year, surveyed over 1,100 C-level decisions-makers in companies and identified five key areas for companies to focus on for 2017:  growth, global activity, margin management, technology and risk management. The perspectives of those surveyed provide a unique insight into the industry. The analysis provided by the Monitor is designed to ignite discussions that can help drive your company and the manufacturing industry forward in the months and years to come. 


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Steve Menaker 
National Manufacturing Practice Leader



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