New industry outlook finds spending caution.

Position:MANUFACTURING - Industry overview

Manufacturing companies are still holding their breath on hiring, unconvinced that the great recession has reached a definitive end, a new survey of manufacturers and wholesale distributors by Clifton Gunderson LLP finds. The study also finds that business leaders are continuing to delay major business initiatives and hiring because of a lack of certainty about the economic recovery.

More than 200 companies responded to Manufacturing Outlook: Findings of a National Survey of the Manufacturing and Distribution Industries, involving a mix of large companies (43 percent of respondents), medium (27 percent) and small (30 percent). The industries included in the study were manufacturing, metal fabrication, distribution, industrial and commercial machinery, agriculture supply/production and food and beverage enterprises.

Even as more than half of the surveyed companies reported an increase in overall profitability during the previous 12 months, caution continues to be the catchword, as indicated by specific findings in several areas:

* 74 percent of respondents are concerned about overall economic uncertainty;

* 49 percent have no plans to export;

* 48 percent are delaying hiring additional staff; and

* 63...

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