According to the February 2011 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies anticipate continued improvement in business conditions during the next three months. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 120 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada. The February report shows that 51 percent of participants forecast an improvement in economic activity during the next three months (up from 47 percent in January), 44 percent predict that activity will remain unchanged (compared to 43 percent last month) and only five percent report that activity will decline (down from 10 percent in January). Metalforming companies also expect improvement in incoming orders for the next three months. Sixty-one percent of participants predict an increase in orders (up from 52 percent in January), 31 percent anticipate no change (compared to 36 percent last month) and eight percent predict a decrease in orders (down from 12 percent in January).
Expectations for growth in average daily shipping levels spiked in February. Forty-eight percent of participants report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (compared to 26 percent in January), 37 percent report that shipping levels are the same as three months ago (down from 50 percent last month), and 15 percent report a decrease in shipping levels (compared to 24 percent in January). The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff increased to 13 percent in February from 12 percent in January. The number is significantly lower than one year ago, when 47 percent reported employees on short time or layoff in February 2010.
"Metalforming companies continue to benefit from growth in the manufacturing sector, the strongest component of the slow but steady recovery that began some 18 months ago," says William E. Gaskin, PMA president. "Survey results demonstrating expectations for the general economy and for growth in orders are the most positive we have seen in several years. A few markets, such as construction, continue to underperform, but the outlook for the metalforming industry continues to improve. One cautionary note for the months ahead is substantial concern over higher costs for flat-rolled metals, which could impact supply-chain relationships and profitability for the metalforming industry."