Daily News: March 24, 2014

U.S. Middle Market Poised to Lead Springtime Thaw

According to the National Center for the Middle Market’s quarterly Middle Market Indicator (MMI), employment and revenue growth projections from the nation’s approximately 200,000 mid-sized firms point to growth in 2014 in spite of this winter’s deep freeze.

In addition to the momentum suggested by the unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s even more cause for optimism among U.S. middle market businesses. According to the Center’s latest MMI, this segment grew employment at a rate of 2.5% during the fourth quarter of 2013 and anticipates growth at 2.2% for the year ahead.

“While this winter has been unseasonably harsh, the underlying performance gains and growth predictions give good reason to be optimistic about a spring-time thaw,” said Dr. Anil Makhija, academic director, NCMM.

Specifically, the center’s latest data on mid-sized manufacturers’ performance suggests a steady employment growth rate for 2014. According to the most recent MMI, mid-sized manufacturers grew jobs at a rate of 2.2% during the fourth quarter of 2013, up from 2.0% in the third quarter. During that same time, they grew revenue at 5.1%, compared to 4.4% growth in the previous quarter. For the year ahead, 48% of mid-sized manufacturers anticipate an increase in employment growth, by an average rate of 2.3%.

“It is encouraging to see confidence levels of mid-sized manufacturers increase as employment and revenue growth rates stabilize,” said Makhija.

“According to our latest data, 61% of these firms are at least somewhat confident in the US economy, compared to 53% in the fourth quarter of 2012. Fifty-Seven percent also expressed confidence in the global economy, compared to 37% in the year prior.

“Given these increased confidence levels, it’s no surprise that the proportion of manufacturing firms expecting to increase hiring in the coming year is up significantly, from 38% in the third quarter to 48% in the fourth quarter.”