Following historic drops in the manufacturing sector brought on by the global recession, firms are looking for signs that the worst is over. Around the globe, capacity utilization in manufacturing plummeted, with the U.S. hitting 65.1% in June—the lowest since the Federal Reserve began tracking it in 1967. Since June, the rate has crept up slightly—reaching 67.6% in October—but remains well below the historic average of 79.6%.
Michael Conley, vice president of the Construction Users Roundtable and engineering manager with DuPont, Wilmington, Del., says owners in the manufacturing sector are cautiously optimistic the market has bottomed out. “Generally, businesses are tentative about making major commitments going forward,” he says. “It will be tough for contractors because things will remain slow and the scope of projects will be smaller. Hopefully things can pick up, but it won’t be a V-shaped recovery.”