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March 2023 Business Conditions Report: Economic Forecast by Metalforming Companies Reflects Volatile Market
CLEVELAND, OH—March 23, 2023—Metalforming companies’ forecast for economic activity over the next three months remained consistent from the previous month, with some manufacturers continuing to express optimism but others predicting headwinds, according to the March 2023 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Prepared monthly, the report provides an economic indicator for the next three months of manufacturing, sampling 114 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.
PMA’s March report shows that 23% of metalforming companies predict an increase in general economic activity in the next three months (compared to 18% in February), 53% expect no change in activity (compared to 63% last month) and 24% anticipate a decrease in activity (up from 19% in February).
Metalformers also forecast a slight decline in incoming orders, with 31% of survey respondents expecting an increase in incoming orders during the next three months (compared to 38% in February), 45% anticipating no change (compared to 40% last month) and 24% predicting a decrease in orders (compared to 22% in February).
“The latest PMA Business Conditions Report is consistent with what I heard from our members at PMA’s Forming Our Future Leadership Conference earlier this month regarding the volatility of the market,” said PMA President David Klotz. “Members’ outlooks somewhat depend on the sectors that they are supplying, but all continue to report supply-chain challenges. There are ways that Congress can help manufacturers by finally extending the R&D tax credit, providing funding for workforce training and resisting unnecessary regulatory actions. In addition, the Administration should read the USITC report on the negative impact of the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs on U.S. manufacturers released last week and eliminate these unnecessary tariffs on our national security allies. I look forward to discussing PMA’s priorities with elected officials and their staffs during the One Voice for Manufacturing legislative fly-in to Washington, D.C., next week.”
Metalforming companies also reported little change in shipping levels in March. Thirty-two percent of respondents reported an increase in shipping levels (compared to 30% in February), 44% reported no change (compared to 45% last month) and 24% reported a decrease (down from 25% in February).
Lead times remained steady in March, with 12% of metalforming companies reporting an increase in lead times (compared to 11% in February). Seven percent of companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in March (decreasing from 8% in February), while 52% of companies are currently expanding their workforce (compared to 47% last month).
Full report results are available at https://www.pma.org/public/business_reports/pdf/BCREP.pdf.
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