A monthly round-up of the MAPI resources available to NFPA members through NFPA's membership in MAPI.
Issues in the Brief
Conflicting Measures of Manufacturing's Performance
Inflation-adjusted manufacturing is reportedly growing about as fast as the quantity of overall gross domestic product. The resulting implication—that there is not a problem with manufacturing growth—is inconsistent with the record of job losses, plant closures, and persistent trade deficits in the sector. The method of measurement has a significant effect on how manufacturing's performance is portrayed, especially in deciding whether there is a national problem regarding the sector's health.
Tales From the Front Line: How Sales Organizations Are Using iPads
More than 60 million tablet computers were purchased in 2011, with Apple's iPad dominating the category. While this is great news for Apple (and its investors), the real question is: who are the users and what are purchasers doing with all these tablets? This article briefly summarizes a recent MAPI survey on members' approaches toward adopting iPads and other tablets. Although three-quarters of members surveyed are currently deploying some sort of tablet in at least part of their organizations, most of these companies are conducting limited or pilot rollouts.
Trends in Employer-Provided Healthcare Benefits
In this short research note, Economic Consultant Jeremy Leonard reviews the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey of employer-provided health benefits. Premium costs soared by 9.5 percent in 2011, the largest rise since 2004, and the majority of the increase was borne by employers rather than employees. Cost savings from high-deductible health plans appear to be waning, and the proportion of small firms offering coverage declined considerably after a transitory increase in 2010. Given that U.S. manufacturers face a significant competitive disadvantage relative to their counterparts in our major trading partners with regard to health costs, reining them in remains key to bolstering the long-term health of the sector.
Manufacturing Activity April 2012—Decline in March Amid a Strong First Quarter
presented by Dan Meckstroth, Ph.D., Chief Economist at MAPI
Dan Meckstroth says that manufacturing production declined somewhat in March but this setback occurred following a surge in production during December, January, and February. In this audio report, MAPI’s Chief Economist discusses the manufacturing labor market, orders, production by industry, factory utilization, prices, and trade. He also reviews the forecast for manufacturing production for 2012 and 2013. The presentation is approximately 8 minutes long.
Analysis on Industrial Production
Cliff Waldman, Senior Economist, regarding the industrial production report for March 2012
"The March report on industrial production growth from the Federal Reserve showed that U.S. manufacturing ended a strong first quarter of 2012 on a weak note," Waldman said. “Total industrial production was unchanged but manufacturing output declined by 0.2 percent. Strong manufacturing output gains during January and February, likely somewhat impacted by the historically warm winter, resulted in a 10.4 percent annualized gain in factory sector growth for the first quarter.
"Nonetheless, the March weakness was broad-based and likely indicative of a downshifting in activity," he added. "Production in a fairly wide range of both durable and nondurable goods industries contracted. Machinery and motor vehicle output were positive and strong but primary and fabricated metal output—which provide inputs into many manufacturing supply chains—both fell. The output of furniture and related products declined by a sizable 1.7 percent but after two outsized gains in January and February, suggesting a weather-related seasonal distortion.
"Evidence of weakening business equipment demand amidst a still sluggish U.S. economy as well as a wide range of global growth concerns, most notably the recession in the Eurozone and the sharp slowdown in key emerging markets, suggests that the March report might herald the beginning of a period of more moderate growth for a U.S. manufacturing sector that has persistently surprised on the upside with regard to both output and employment gains," Waldman concluded.
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