We've been in the longest period of economic expansion in history, so we're overdue. You know it's coming. A recession. The question is not if, it's when. Most small and midsize manufacturing companies can't afford an on-staff economist to help them make sense of economic data and how it impacts their markets. At best you might hear about what the purchasing manager's index or the GDP was for any given time period, but what should you do about that information? Fortunately there's a really good and affordable resource available to help.
I've long been a fan of ITR Economics because their research is extensive, unbiased (they serve nobody but their subscribers), and very clearly explained, including what business actions to consider based on the information they just gave you. Full disclosure: I am getting nothing whatsoever for making this recommendation to you, but I believe very strongly that every business can benefit from the insights that ITR provide.
Their reports are particularly useful for companies in manufacturing markets as they cover many specific industries and manufacturing inputs, as well as trends in the overall economy.
Today, they offer three main products: The Insider, a $20/mo summary of the main things to know about what's going on in the Economy. The Trends Report, which is a more in-depth monthly analysis for $975 a year that includes data on 47 (yes, that's right 47) indicators including manufacturing, financial and construction related reports. They also offer a semi-custom product called Datacast that lets you map your company's current and historical sales data against a massive dataset of economic indicators to see which indicators your company's sales tend to follow, lead or lag. This can be really useful as an additional early warning sign-- for example if you know that your company's sales tend to lag industrial production by say, 5 months, then a downward trend in industrial production would serve as a flag to start preparing for a soft market soon.
As I said, I get nothing from recommending ITR other than that satisfaction that I might help some companies get prepared for the headwinds that are inevitably coming.
You can get a free trial of their Economic Trends report to see what kind of actionable information is included and if it could help your business. https://itrondemand.com/store/product/trendsreport-free-trial