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26 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2023 Feature Article by Shawn DuBravac IPC Editor 's note: Shawn D uBravac, IPC chief economist, delivered a keynote at the EMS Leader- ship Summit at IPC APEX EXPO 2023. Here, Shawn provides an update on what is a complex and sometimes contradictory economic outlook. At this year's EMS Summit held at IPC APEX EXPO, I shared IPC's economic outlook for 2023 and 2024. The electronics industry overcame significant hurdles and headwinds in 2022, thanks in large part to strong underlying demand. While many of those hurdles and headwinds have subsided, the industry faces new challenges in the year ahead. At the EMS Summit, I shared three key themes defining the year ahead. First, the industry starts the new year on solid footing and a generally strong optimistic tone. Companies continue to report solid order flow. While fewer companies are reporting order growth than they did in 2021 and 2022, companies are still optimistic about the months ahead. Capacity utilization remains strong, and in the U.S., the electronics manufacturing sector has added about 35,000 new jobs in the last year. The industry has the highest employment levels it has had since 2009. Backlogs have settled as incoming orders have slowed and supply chain disruptions have dissipated, but overall, companies remain cautiously optimistic about the first half of the year. A Complex and Contradictory Economic Outlook Shawn DuBravac

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