Metalformers Slightly More Pessimistic in April

Some 30% of companies now anticipate a decrease in economic activity in coming months.

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CLEVELAND — Metalforming companies’ forecast for economic activity over the next three months remained fairly steady from the previous month, with some manufacturers expressing optimism and others anticipating headwinds, according to the April 2023 Precision Metalforming Association Business Conditions Report.

Prepared monthly, the report provides an economic indicator for the next three months of manufacturing, sampling 117 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada. 

PMA’s April report shows that 55% of metalforming companies expect no change in general economic activity in the next three months (compared to 53% in March), 15% predict an increase in activity (compared to 23% last month) and 30% anticipate a decrease in activity (up from 24% in March).

Metalformers forecast little change in incoming orders, with 28% of survey respondents expecting an increase in incoming orders during the next three months (compared to 31% in March), 44% anticipating no change (compared to 45% last month) and 28% predicting a decrease in orders (up from 24% in March).

“The latest PMA Business Conditions Report shows that the outlook continues to vary depending on the sectors that our members are supplying,” said PMA President David Klotz. “PMA recently organized a trip to Washington, DC for leaders from our member companies. The One Voice for Manufacturing legislative fly-in allowed our members to convey directly to Members of Congress and their staffs the need to reinstate the full deduction of R&D expensing, fund workforce training and apprenticeships, and avoid policies that drive up prices and create shortages of raw materials including steel and aluminum.”

Metalforming companies also reported virtually unchanged shipping levels. Thirty-three percent of respondents reported an increase in average daily shipping levels in April (compared to 32% in March), 46% reported no change (compared to 44% last month) and 21% reported a decrease (down from 24% in March).

Lead times rose for the third straight month, with 17% of metalforming companies reporting an increase in lead times in April (compared to 12% in March). Seven percent of companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff (the same percentage reported in March), while 47% of companies are currently expanding their workforce (compared to 52% last month).

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