According to the May 2012 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies expect a softening in business conditions during the next three months. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 126 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada. The May report shows that only 24 percent of participants anticipate economic activity to improve during the next three months (down from 37 percent in April), 60 percent predict that activity will remain unchanged (compared to 51 percent last month) and 16 percent report that activity will decline (up from 12 percent in April). Metalforming companies also forecast a downward trend in incoming orders during the next three months, with 34 percent anticipating an increase in orders (compared to 43 percent in April), 46 percent expecting no change (up from 41 percent in April) and 20 percent predicting a decrease in orders (up from 16 percent last month). Average daily shipping levels declined in May. Only 37 percent of participants report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (down from 46 percent in April), 44 percent report that shipping levels are the same as three months ago (compared to 41 percent last month), and 19 percent report a decrease in shipping levels (up from 13 percent in April). The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff increased to 10 percent in May, from 9 percent in April. However, this number is lower than May 2011, when metalformers reported 14 percent of their workforce on short time or layoff.
"PMA's manufacturing member companies report softer, but still quite positive, business conditions in PMA's May Business Conditions Report," said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. "For the first three months of 2012, metalforming companies reported strong orders and shipments, up 10 percent vs. Q-1 in 2011, so the general uptick in manufacturing that has led the economic recovery continues to be reflected in our numbers. Compared with PMA's May 2011 Business Conditions Report, the 2012 outlook is similar in that softening is expected over the next few months, but with 10 percent growth in the first quarter, business levels continue to be more positive."