Optimism regarding the U.S. economy among U.S. industrial manufacturers improved markedly during the first quarter of 2012, while views of the worldwide economy remain guarded, improving only modestly due to continued high levels of uncertainty.” –Barry Misthal, global industrial manufacturing leader for global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers

Sometimes in the rough-and-tumble world of freight you’ve just got to grab at whatever silver lining presents itself and hold on tight. And right now, rising optimism among big U.S. manufacturing firms seems to be one such lining in a very uncertain global economy – especially as manufacturing generates a healthy amount of trucking tonnage.

That at least is the view unearthed via the quarterly Manufacturing Barometer survey conducted by global consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in the first quarter this year, based on interviews with 60 senior executives of large, multinational U.S. industrial manufacturing companies regarding current business performance, the state of the economy and their expectations for near-term growth.