PMA’s April Business Conditions Report
The April report shows that 33% of participants predict that economic activity will improve during the next three months (down from 35% in March), 58% expect that activity will remain unchanged (the same percentage reported last month) and 9% believe that economic activity will decline (up from 7% in March).
Metalforming companies also forecast that incoming orders will remain steady during the next three months, with 41% predicting an increase in orders (down from 43% in March), 47% anticipating no change (the same percentage reported in March) and 12% expecting a decrease in orders (up from 10% last month).
Current average daily shipping levels improved in April. Forty-six percent of participants report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (compared to 40% in March), 43% report that levels are the same as three months ago (the same percentage reported last month) and only 11% report a decrease in shipping levels (compared to 17% in March).
The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff dipped to 7% in April, down from 10% in March. The April 2015 figure marks a slight decrease from this time last year, when 8% of companies reported workers on short time or layoff.
“Business conditions in the metalforming industry seem to accurately reflect the current state of the U.S. economy—generally okay, with pockets of disappointment (mining, heavy equipment, segments of construction) and pockets of opportunity (aerospace, home and commercial electronics, automotive and appliances),” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “Fabricated metal products, as a segment of overall manufacturing, finished Q-1 2015 with average growth of 2.7%, according to the Federal Reserve, while PMA’s orders and shipments data indicates that typical PMA members have experienced one to two percent growth year-to-date for 2015 vs. 2014. Continued growth in regulatory burdens, lack of clear tax policy supporting manufacturing on the part of Congress and the strong U.S. dollar are all headwinds impacting PMA’s membership. However, the April Business Conditions Report indicates continued firming in expectations for shipments over the next three months, which is a positive trend.”