Trade associations representing manufacturers were rated the most effective in achieving their policy objectives this year, an APCO Worldwide report released Thursday found.

Financial services and technology associations are also seen as highly effective, according to the report, which surveyed more than 300 congressional staffers, Biden administration officials and business leaders in July and August 2023.

For the first time in nine editions of the APCO TradeMarks study, manufacturers were collectively rated the most effective of the 50 trade associations examined.

The trillion-dollar Bipartisan Infrastructure Law injected a massive infusion of new funding that likely contributed to the perceived effectiveness of the industry, the report notes.

Manufacturers are also poised to receive billions of dollars in microchip subsidies, part of a broader focus on domestic production that’s boosted their profile among policy leaders.

“This year’s findings confirm that the U.S. manufacturing sector has seized their moment, as we have seen this sector’s perceived effectiveness rise from the least effective in 2021 to third last year and now topping the list,” said Bill Dalbec, the report’s principal investigator and managing director for APCO Insight, in a statement.

The overall effectiveness of industry trade associations has continued to decline from the record-setting 2021, when policy leaders praised the way trade associations navigated and adapted during the pandemic, according to the report. 

While this led Dalbec and his team to suggest perceptions may be returning to pre-pandemic levels, the TradeMarks Index for 2023 remains higher than any survey prior to 2021.

Associations representing transportation and travel, food and beverage, and retail industries were among the least effective this year, according to the report, which noted these industries were hit particularly hard by the pandemic and have faced challenges including ongoing economic uncertainty.

Policymakers surveyed by APCO said the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, was the most effective trade association this year at direct lobbying.

IHRSA, The Global Health & Fitness Association, scored highest in five of the 15 characteristics surveyed, including media relations, coalition building and unified voice.

The Credit Union National Association also scored highest in member representation and bipartisanship for the second year in a row. According to the study, both characteristics were highly valued as trade associations built relationships with key players at the start of the new Congress and lobbyists were also allowed to return to Capitol Hill in January after pandemic restrictions kept them away for several years.

Updated at 9:13 a.m.