The harsh winter put the brakes on U.S. economic growth, which slowed to a mere 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014, according to Commerce Department reports. Nevertheless, the results of PwC’s Q1 Manufacturing Barometer released in mid-April reflect rising optimism among U.S. industrial manufacturers. More than 70 percent of those surveyed expressed optimism about the prospects for the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, reaching the highest level of optimism since the fourth quarter of 2005.
“This improved sentiment bodes well for the year ahead, as management teams continue to indicate consistent near-term spending plans, including hiring more workers, supporting new product development, and investing in IT and R&D,” said Bobby Bono, PwC’s industrial manufacturing leader.
Those spending plans are evident in the projects in each of the 20 states that were awarded Gold or Silver Shovels by Area Development this year. These states are recognized for their efforts in attracting capital investment and job-creation through their pro-business policies, highly developed infrastructures, well-qualified work forces, and creative business assistance programs that convinced companies to locate new facilities within their borders or to expand and add jobs to facilities already there. One state in each of five population categories received a Gold Shovel, with a Silver Shovel going to 15 runner-up states. Additionally, five “projects of the year” (one in each population category) are recognized for their sizable investment and job-creation numbers.
Also in this issue is our Leading Locations report wherein 379 MSAs were ranked against 21 economic and workforce indicators to determine the overall leaders, as well as those MSAs leading among small, mid-size, and big cities, and within nine regions of the country (see report beginning on page 81). Despite sluggish U.S. GDP growth, these Leading Locations are MSAs that have managed to land new and expanded businesses and grow their local economies. The rebirth of American manufacturing, advances in technology, and the energy revolution brought about by fracking have all contributed to their growth.
Although the U.S. economy was off to a slow start this year, the OECD is expecting U.S. economic growth to average 2.6 percent in 2014, rising to 3.5 percent in 2015. And the states and MSAs highlighted in this issue will be among the leaders of the predicted economic rebound.