Metalformers More Optimistic in Latest PMA Survey

The percentage of companies expecting a drop in orders fell sharply.

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CLEVELAND — Optimism by metalforming manufacturers about business activity continues to rise, according to the February 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 February report shows for the third straight month an increase in those manufacturers responding to the survey that expect an increase in business activity (23% compared to 20% in January). Also, 61% forecast no change in activity (compared to 60% last month) and only 16% anticipate a decrease in activity (dropping from 20% in January).

Metalformers also forecast an improvement in incoming orders, with 40% of survey respondents expecting an increase in orders during the next three months (up from 34% in January), 48% predicting no change in orders (compared to 45% in January) and only 12% anticipating a decrease in orders (declining from 21% in January).

Current average daily shipping levels spiked in February, with 31% reporting an increase in shipping levels (compared to 16% in January), 39% reporting no change (compared to 44% in January) and 30% reporting a decrease in levels (down from 40% last month) 

“The February PMA Business Conditions report continues to show growing confidence by our members that economic activity will continue to improve over the next three months,” said PMA President David Klotz. “This optimism was given a boost by the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act in January, which would reinstate several important tax provisions for manufacturers, including R&D expensing and bonus depreciation. PMA’s advocacy team in Washington, D.C., has been working for months on this bill because this country has the most innovative manufacturers in the world, but we cannot fall behind China and other global competitors in continuing to invest in research and development. PMA strongly urges the U.S. Senate to pass this bill as quickly as possible.”

Seven percent of metalforming companies reported an increase in lead times in February (the same percentage reported in January). Six percent of companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in February (unchanged from January), while 44% of companies are currently expanding their workforce (increasing from 37% in January). 

Full report results are available here.

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