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Metalforming companies are less optimistic about business activity in the coming months

Economic Outlook Dips for Metalformers in May

June 10, 2024
Business activity for metalformers remained steady in May but expectations for the coming months are lower as economic uncertainty lingers.

For the first time in 2024, metalformers' outlook on business activity for the next 3 months fell per the May 2024 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. 

Just 19% of metalforming manufacturers expect to see an increase in economic activity in the coming months. This is down from the 21% who responded the same in the April PMA report. More manufacturers, 26%, are anticipating a decrease in activity which is up from the 12% who responded as such in April. 

Fewer metalformers, 55%, compared to the April report said they anticipate no change in activity over the next 3 months. 

Order activity is expected to be relatively similar to previous months. Of the metalformers PMA surveyed for the May report, 49% said they do not expect order activity to change which just 1% higher than those who said the same in April. Those manufacturers who expect orders to increase remained the same from April to May at 21%. 

However, slightly more metalformers are anticipating order activity to decline with 19% indicating as such compared to 13% in April. 

Average daily shipping levels and lead times remained steady in May with little change in how metalforming manufacturers felt about these business conditions between the April and May reports. Those reporting increases in shipping levels remained at 21% while those who saw no change in activity rose slightly in May to 49% from 48% in April. Thirty percent of respondents to PMA's survey reported a decrease in shipping compared to 31% who said the same in April.

A small percentage of metalformers, 7%, reported an increase in lead times in May while 35% said they are expanding their workforce which is up from the 26% who said as such in April, indicating a continued need for people to produce products. 

“For most of this year, metalformers' expectations for business conditions were fairly steady, but this month's survey shows that members are increasingly concerned with a slowdown in the economy, trade conflicts that could further increase the costs of important inputs including steel and aluminum, and a lack of progress on the tax package in Congress,” said David Klotz, PMA president. 

PMA, the trade association representing the North American metalforming industry, compiles its Business Conditions Report each month to provide an economic indicator for the next 3 months of manufacturing based on insight from 121 metalforming companies in the U.S. and Canada.

Metalworking and machine tools are an important customer segment for the fluid power industry, and therefore monitoring business activity in this sector can be a helpful indicator for the performance of the hydraulics and pneumatics market. 

About the Author

Sara Jensen | Executive Editor, Power & Motion

Sara Jensen is executive editor of Power & Motion, directing expanded coverage into the modern fluid power space, as well as mechatronic and smart technologies. She has over 15 years of publishing experience. Prior to Power & Motion she spent 11 years with a trade publication for engineers of heavy-duty equipment, the last 3 of which were as the editor and brand lead. Over the course of her time in the B2B industry, Sara has gained an extensive knowledge of various heavy-duty equipment industries — including construction, agriculture, mining and on-road trucks —along with the systems and market trends which impact them such as fluid power and electronic motion control technologies. 

You can follow Sara and Power & Motion via the following social media handles:

X (formerly Twitter): @TechnlgyEditor and @PowerMotionTech

LinkedIn: @SaraJensen and @Power&Motion

Facebook: @PowerMotionTech

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