What comes next? Alongside ongoing uncertainty related to COVID-19, companies must also have a proactive eye on other potential disruptions to their business in the months ahead.
In particular, the upcoming U.S. election is weighing heavy on the collective minds of roughly 350 manufacturers, fabricators, and machine shops across North America. More than 75% of those surveyed by Ryerson pointed to this as a primary concern, beyond COVID-19, headed into the final few months of the year.
As described in a previous post, there are a few different theories as to how the results of an election ultimately impact business conditions.
Respondents are also closely watching the labor market. Roughly 42% listed this as a primary concern, which is no surprise given how vital skilled laborers are to the manufacturing industry.
Government data suggests that the labor front continues to improve from COVID-19 levels. On September 4, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payrolls increased by 1.37 million in August and the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%--the lowest since March.
However, an article from Bespoke says that a look beneath the surface of the stats from the August report could be telling a much different story. According to Bespoke, while payrolls did in fact beat expectations, the number of Americans who are on permanent layoff (involuntarily unemployed and looking for work) rose by more than 500,000, adding that their share of the overall labor force is now the same as during the peak of the early-2000s recession.
Could an increase of permanent job loss suggest that the labor market is still suffering from lingering effects of COVID-19? Only time will tell. For a complete look at the results of the Ryerson customer survey check out The Metal Perspective.