Metalformers' Outlook Remains Steady in March

Nearly one-quarter of respondents expected an increase in business activity.

I Stock 1355381823

CLEVELAND — Metalforming manufacturers’ predictions about business activity showed little change over the previous month, according to the March 2024 Precision Metalforming Association Business Conditions Report.

Prepared monthly, PMA’s report provides an economic indicator for the next three months of manufacturing, sampling 97 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

PMA’s March report shows that manufacturers responding to the survey anticipate that economic activity will be stable during the next three months, with 24% expecting an increase in activity (compared to 23% in February). Also, 60% forecast no change in activity (compared to 61% last month) and only 16% anticipate a decrease in activity (the same percentage reported in February).

Metalformers also forecast little change in incoming orders for the next three months, with 39% of survey respondents expecting an increase in orders during the next three months (compared to 40% in February), 45% predicting no change in orders (compared to 48% in February) and 16% anticipating a decrease in orders (increasing from 12% last month).

Current average daily shipping levels dipped in March after spiking in February, with 24% reporting an increase in shipping levels (compared to 31% in February), 44% reporting no change (compared to 39% in February) and 32% reporting a decrease in levels (up from 30% last month) 

“PMA’s March Business Conditions Report shows the resiliency of metalforming manufacturers, but to drive more growth and expansion in our industry, it is imperative that the Senate approves the House-passed Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act as soon as possible,” said PMA President David Klotz. “The bill would reinstate critical manufacturing tax provisions whose expiration has amounted to a significant tax increase for our members. For example, the bill includes reinstating bonus depreciation which provides our members with an incentive to make capital expenditures to grow their businesses. Similarly, the bill reinstates the ability to expense research and development costs which allows our members to invest in innovation, including new products and technologies. These investments are critical if U.S. manufacturers are going to remain competitive on the global stage. Congress needs to get this tax package across the finish line by April 15.”

Lead times also remained steady with 6% of metalforming companies reporting an increase in lead times in March (compared to 7% in February). Seven percent of companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in March (compared to 6% in February), while 36% of companies are currently expanding their workforce (decreasing from 44% in February). 

Full report results are available at

More in Economy