Metal forming companies expect slight uptick in business conditions

January 19, 2009

According to the January 2009 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metal forming companies expect a slight uptick in business conditions during the next three months. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 163 metal forming companies in the United States and Canada.

When asked what the trend in general economic activity will be during the next three months, metal formers anticipate a modest improvement. Fourteen percent of participants predict an improvement in business (up from six percent in December), 41 percent expect that activity will remain unchanged (up from 31 percent last month) and 45 percent reported that activity will decline (down from 63 percent in December).

Metal forming companies also anticipate that incoming orders will improve somewhat during the next three months. Nineteen percent of companies forecast an increase in orders (up from 11 percent in December), 32 percent expect no change (compared to 30 percent the previous month) and 49 percent predict a decrease in orders (down from 59 percent in December).

Current average daily shipping levels remained unchanged in January. Seventy-nine percent of participants report that shipping levels are below levels of three months ago, while 17 percent report no change and only four percent report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago—the exact percentages reported in December.

Despite anticipation that business conditions will improve slightly during the next three months, the number of metal forming companies with a portion of their work force on short time or layoff spiked to 64 percent in January—up from 54 percent in December and at a substantially higher rate than January 2008, when only 14 percent of companies reported workers on short time or layoff.