ID Editorial: New Year, New Outlook?

Maybe. But this bumpy ride isn't over yet...

I Stock 693798666

What a way to ring in the New Year.

Anna Wells, ID Executive EditorAnna Wells, ID Executive EditorMost of us, instead of popping the champagne surrounded by our family and friends, participated in a toned down celebration as we tossed our calendars in late December. My New Year’s Lite was a cheese board and a movie, but I’ll be honest: that’s probably what I would have done, pandemic or not.

For many, saying goodbye to 2020 was accompanied by a special, if symbolic significance, coupled with relief. Unfortunately, the fresh start we’d envisioned wasn’t waiting for us; 2021 came in strong with violence, political drama and a peak for coronavirus infections and deaths.

That said, it was not without good news. As of mid-January, the US had delivered 31 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and, though slow, the rollout is well underway.

Secondly, the economic outlook looks stronger. ISM (the Institute for Supply Management) recently released its December 2020 Semiannual Economic Forecast, where the group predicted that revenues will increase in 15 of 18 key manufacturing segments, and that capital spending overall will kick up 2.4 percent. This compares to a drop in spending in 2020 of the same amount. ISM’s analysis follows raises in outlooks for industry associations like PTDA.

There’s reason for optimism, despite the peaks and valleys we’ve experienced so far, but STAFDA also recently warned that it won’t be a consistent slope back to normal. In its recent newsletter, the association reminded members about the shifting business conditions relating to the pandemic.

While we’re looking at gradual improvements in numbers, the pandemic will continue to impact operations through 2021. Key to managing this will be acknowledging that there are still risks inherent in re-opening and resuming onsite work. STAFDA stresses the importance of reviewing their existing telework policies and updating emergency shutdown plans, but “don’t rely on old OSHA and CDC rules. These are expected to undergo major updates. New, binding federal rules will hit very early in the Biden administration. Plus, more and more states have updated their own binding rules. If an emergency plan was created anytime in 2020 – it’s not current.”

It’s good advice as we try to marry our optimism and business ramp-up with caution for the unexpected. It looks like we’re headed in the right direction but, just like the start of this fresh new year, it’ll be a bumpy ride.

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