Manufacturers had to adjust to the realities of COVID-19 in 2020. The percentage of employees in the sector working from home jumped from 18.9% in 2019 to 29.9% in 2020, according to the latest American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (It is always fascinating to see how the typical American uses his or her time each day, so I would encourage a deeper dive into this resource.)

The IHS Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI expanded at another record pace, buoyed by stronger growth and a very upbeat outlook, despite lingering supply chain challenges and soaring prices. Raw material costs and output prices soared once again to all-time high rates.  Manufacturing activity in the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s district strengthened to a three-month high in July, with growth in exports rising at the fastest pace in 13 years and a robust outlook for the next six months. However, the backlog of orders also jumped to a new record, and respondents once again cited supply chain, inflation and workforce concerns.