Metalformers Expect Stable Conditions to Start the Year

A majority of metalforming companies expected no change in general economic activity in the next three months.

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CLEVELAND, Ohio β€” Metalforming companies continue to anticipate stable business conditions for the first few months of 2024, and are expressing more optimism about business activity month over month, according to the January 2024 Precision Metalforming Association Business Conditions Report.

Prepared monthly, PMA’s report provides an economic indicator for the next three months of manufacturing, sampling 121 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

PMA’s January report shows that 60% of metalforming companies expect no change in general economic activity in the next three months β€” compared to 57% in December β€” while 20% anticipate an increase in activity, up from 13% last month, and 20% predict a decrease in activity, dropping from 30% in December.

Metalformers also forecast an uptick in incoming orders, with 34% of survey respondents expecting an increase in orders during the next three months, up from 29% in December, 45% predicting no change in orders, compared to 41% in December,  and 21% anticipating a decrease in orders, declining from 30% in December.

Current average daily shipping levels remained steady in January, with 44% reporting no change in shipping levels compared to 43% in December, 40% reporting a decrease in levels β€” down from 43% last month β€” and 16% reporting an increase in shipping levels, compared to 14% in December.

β€œPMA members are expressing confidence that their businesses will continue to experience stable conditions in the first quarter of 2024,” said PMA President David Klotz. β€œIn fact, the January Business Conditions Report shows the highest percentage of respondents predicting steady or increased economic activity since April 2022. Congress can help the manufacturing sector grow further by quickly passing the bicameral tax framework announced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden on Jan. 16. The framework reinstates several important tax provisions that PMA has long advocated for to boost U.S. manufacturing, including reinstating R&D expensing retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, and 100% full expensing β€” bonus depreciation β€” retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023.”

Seven percent of metalforming companies reported an increase in lead times in January, the same percentage reported in December. Six percent of companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in January β€” compared to 7% in December β€” while 37% of companies are currently expanding their workforce, the same percentage reported last month.

Full report results are available at https://www.pma.org/public/business_reports/pdf/BCREP.pdf.

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