In the latest NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 66.0% of respondents reported a positive outlook for their company in the third quarter, up from 33.9% in the second quarter, which had been the worst reading since the Great Recession. However, the outlook measure remains below the historical average of 74.4%. Weak domestic demand continued to be the top primary business challenge.

Respondents were asked when they expect revenues to return to pre-pandemic levels. Sixty-two percent expect their firm’s revenues will not get back to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2021 or later. Just 17.6% note their revenues had already recovered, with 12.5% predicting them to bounce back in either the third or fourth quarter of 2020.

More than half of manufacturers report higher production in the third quarter than in the second, with 22.7% predicting output will be lower and 24.8% feeling there will be no change. Similarly, 30.0% and 26.8% of those completing the survey anticipate that hiring and capital spending will increase in the third quarter, respectively, with roughly 45% seeing no change in either measure relative to the second quarter.