Consumer and investor confidence continue to improve as do unemployment, industrial production activity and factory operating rates (utilization). All are favorably impacting material handling equipment manufacturing (MHEM), according to the Material Handling Industry of America’s (MHIA) latest MHEM forecast, developed by Hal Vandiver, MHIA's executive consultant. Both residential and non-residential construction will contribute greatly to positive growth through 2014.

MHEM new orders grew 16.3% in 2011. The outlook for 2012 is for growth at 8.0 to 9.0% and for 2013 around 12.0% and continued growth in 2014.

MHEM shipments grew 17.7% in 2011. The outlook for 2012 is to grow in the 9.0% and 11.0% in 2013 and continued growth in 2014.

MHEM Domestic Demand grew 19.2% in 2011. Domestic demand (shipments plus imports less exports) will likely mirror shipment growth in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“Overall, initial evidence for 2012 is still mostly encouraging, although we do expect the GDP growth rate to slip to 1.9% in the first quarter, from 3.0% in the fourth, as inventory rebuilding slows,” according to Vandiver. “The labor market has been doing better than most indicators of aggregate demand, consistent with slower productivity growth and slower growth in corporate earnings. Rising oil prices mean that gasoline prices are climbing again and will squeeze consumers’ spending power this spring, although the improved labor market is giving consumer incomes a cushion.”

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