US manufacturers report record-high optimism after tax reform

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said Wednesday its quarterly survey of members revealed a record level of optimism following the passage of tax reform.

The Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2018 showed that 95.1% of manufacturers have a positive outlook for their businesses, the best result in the survey’s 20-year history.

“A large part of that is because of the tax cuts and that’s what we hear from our manufacturers,” NAM CEO Jay Timmons said during an exclusive interview on FOX Business’ “After the Bell” on Wednesday.

“We’ve been working for 30 years to enact comprehensive tax reform and regulatory relief,” he added. “We’ve got that done and now we’re seeing the results from it.”

The industry association also found that U.S. manufacturers are planning to increase investments by 4.1% over the next 12 months, along with a 3.1% increase in hiring — the largest increases since the NAM began tracking manufacturers’ plans. Wages are expected to get a 2.7% boost, the highest since 2001.

Projected sales growth of 5.7% matched the second-highest reading in survey history.

“This is not an accident at all,” Timmons said at a press conference hosted by House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. “This is fueled by the history-making tax reform that was passed six months ago.”

A large majority of manufacturers, aided by tax cuts, plan to increase investments, hire more workers and increase wages and benefits, Timmons added.

“The fact is, we’re just getting started,” he said.

The NAM survey comes amid escalated traded tensions between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies. Large manufacturers were most optimistic about exports, expecting 1.9% growth over the next 12 months, the NAM said. Small and medium-sized firms forecasted a 1.3% increase.

FOX Business' Henry Fernandez contributed to this report.