NAM: High gas prices causing layoffs
High natural gas prices are beginning to cause significant job losses, salary freezes and lost market share for U.S. manufacturers, according to the results of a national survey released Thursday by the National Association of Manufacturers.
Nearly 45% of those surveyed said they will be forced to lay off workers or impose wage freezes or reductions. About 22% of respondents said their companies would cut health care or benefits in an attempt to keep up with energy costs.
“This is a crisis. It’s the worst I’ve seen since we started this company 45 years ago,” said Virginia Ferrell, president of Capital Engineering and Manufacturing Co., with 85 employees in Chicago. “I don’t think people recognize that this shortage of energy is new to the United States. It’s a seismic market disruption. Meanwhile, our competitors are increasing their energy supplies.”
Ferrell said her company would impose job cuts, wage freezes, benefit cuts, and move to a four-day work week to survive energy costs that have doubled. “This is serious enough to put us out of business,” she said.
About two-thirds of respondents said natural gas is their primary energy source. About 15% cited oil, and three percent cited coal.
“The results of this survey should set off alarms in Congress -- high energy prices pose an immediate threat to the U.S. economy,” said NAM president John Engler. “It is time to increase energy supply and infrastructure, starting with developing our vast resources in Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf.”
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey