New Survey Details “New Normal” for Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturers Amid Pandemic

BKD and The Manufacturing Institute’s Center for Manufacturing Research Launch Survey Series of Manufacturers with Fewer Than 500 Employees

WASHINGTON, D.C., 02/11/21 –

The Manufacturing Institute’s Center for Manufacturing Research and national CPA and advisory firm BKD released results from their first survey of small and medium-sized manufacturers. Manufacturing leaders were asked to describe the “new normal” for operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key survey findings include the following:

  • More than 77% expect to continue struggling to identify talent in 2021 and beyond.
  • Nearly 64% had reevaluated what work could be done remotely where possible.
  • More than 83% had enhanced workplace safety measures and requirements.

“It may seem like a paradox, but even with pandemic-induced unemployment, manufacturers are still facing challenges finding the workers they need. With about half a million jobs open in manufacturing, that need is great—perhaps even greater than before the pandemic,” said Center for Manufacturing Research Director and National Association of Manufacturers Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “These findings continue to demonstrate the importance of The Manufacturing Institute’s efforts to reduce the skills gap and get more people onto modern manufacturing career paths—including through its Creators Wanted campaign with the National Association of Manufacturers.

“The survey also reveals the diverse ways that small and medium-sized manufacturers have adapted to the pandemic—and what they expect in the coming months. It captures manufacturers, in their own words, describing the future of everything from virtual work and flexible schedules to new product lines and price pressures.”

“BKD is proud to partner with The Manufacturing Institute on this survey. It is clear the pandemic has had a significant impact on small and medium-sized manufacturers,” said BKD CPAs & Advisors National Industry Partner John Mather. “Not all the impacts are the same, and the results show a variety of concerns. With that in mind, The Manufacturing Institute continues to play an important role is assisting these businesses with their challenges. Creators Wanted is a great example of how The Manufacturing Institute is making an impact.”

View the full survey here.

-Creators Wanted-

The NAM, together with The Manufacturing Institute, launched the Creators Wanted campaign, an unprecedented national effort to build the modern manufacturing workforce of tomorrow. By 2025, Creators Wanted aims to reduce the skills gap in the United States by 600,000, as well as increase the number of students enrolling in technical and vocational schools or reskilling programs by 25% and increase the positive perception of the industry among parents to 50% from 27%. For more information on Creators Wanted, please visit

-The MI-

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit

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