Employee health care costs and government regulation remain the biggest concerns for Minnesota manufacturers — but those worries are down significantly from a few years earlier.
Only 56 percent of companies surveyed recently by the manufacturing trade group Enterprise Minnesota rated health care expenses as a concern. That's down from 71 percent in 2011, when firms were asked the question immediately after passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, group said Tuesday.
While manufacturers continued to cite Minnesota's "unfavorable business climate" as a barrier to future growth, that concern fell to 43 percent in the current survey, down from 48 percent in 2014, according to the survey of 400 manufacturing executives across the state taken between Feb. 23 and March 18.
Other findings include:
• 89 percent of manufacturing executives say they are confident about the future of their firms, the highest in the survey's seven-year history and 5 percentage points higher than 2014.
• 46 percent of Twin Cities area firms and 42 percent of non-metro firms say it's difficult to attract new workers because applicants don't have the needed skills or education to do the job.
• Machinists (29 percent) and assemblers (23 percent) are the most coveted employees.
"Minnesota's manufacturers are undoubtedly bullish about their prospects for 2015," Enterprise Minnesota CEO Bob Kill said in a statement. "The chronic shortage of qualified workers, however, has manufacturers increasingly concerned that they will not be able to take full advantage of the improving economy."