Manufacturers are beginning to feel the benefits of the economic recovery, but larger companies are more optimistic than smaller ones, according to a new report from assurance, tax and consulting firm McGladrey.

In its 5th Annual U.S. Manufacturing and Wholesale Distribution Survey, the firm noted that almost a third of manufacturers with revenues over $500 million reported that their business was “thriving and growing.”

Only 19 percent of companies with less than $25 million in annual revenue reported the same. Ten percent of all the companies polled reported declining business conditions, a significant improvement over 2009.

“Small and midsized companies remain … risk-averse following the recession,” noted Tom Murphy, RSM McGladrey’s executive vice president of manufacturing and wholesale distribution.

The report suggested that differing abilities to access credit and to benefit from globalization may explain some of the differences in outlook between small and large manufacturers.

Of the 1,061 respondents to the poll, 47 percent reported that export sales have increased. Of those who said that international sales are key to business growth, 88 percent anticipated revenue increases in foreign markets.

At the same time, 71 percent projected that U.S. sales would rise in 2010.

“Companies that are already globally competitive — or considering entering global markets — will maintain a significant advantage over those only selling in the U.S. market,” Murphy said.

In other findings:
• Nearly half of companies (48 percent) expect to increase their workforce in 2010.
• Legislative issues were of significant concern, with 95 percent of respondents concerned about health care reform; 89 percent concerned about additional regulatory requirements; and 81 percent concerned about changing energy policy.

The full report is available here.

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