According to the February 2014 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies expect a dip in business conditions during the following three months, mirroring manufacturer reports of decreased customer demand. Conducted monthly, the report samples 115 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.
Thirty-two percent of the February participants predicted an improvement economic activity over the next three months (down from 46 percent in January). An additional 60 percent anticipated that activity would remain unchanged (compared to 47 percent last month), and 8 percent believed that economic activity would decline (up from 7 percent in January). Metalforming companies also forecast a modest decline in incoming orders during the next three months, with 50 percent anticipating an increase in orders (down from 54 percent in January), 41 percent expecting no change (the same percentage reported in January) and 9 percent predicting a decrease in orders (up from 5 percent in January).
However, current average daily shipping levels improved in February, with 46 percent of participants reporting shipping levels above levels of three months ago (up from 35 percent in January). Meanwhile, 31 percent reported that shipping levels were the same as three months prior (compared to 45 percent in January), and 23 percent report a decrease in shipping levels (compared to 20 percent in January).
The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff remained steady at 6 percent in February. The February 2014 figure is significantly better than it was at this time last year when 19 percent of companies reported workers on short time or layoff.
“Business conditions reported by PMA members are consistent with widely reported caution on the part of manufacturers that consumer demand and confidence is not as strong as expected,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “Increasing regulatory costs and frustrations over the lack of action in Washington, D.C. on tax rates, immigration and trade agreements threatened to restrict a stronger economic recovery,” and may be the reason for this caution, according to Mr. Gaskin.
Full report results are available at pma.org/public/business_reports/pdf/BCREP.pdf.