October 2023 Business Conditions Report: Metalforming Companies Continue to Predict Slowing Economic Activity

Metalforming companies continue to predict declining business conditions in the coming months, according to the October 2023 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Prepared monthly, PMA’s report provides an economic indicator for the next three months of manufacturing, sampling 110 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

After a significant increase in the number of metalforming companies anticipating a decline in economic activity in September, PMA’s October report shows that 54% of metalforming companies expect a decrease in general economic activity in the next three months (a small increase compared to 50% in September), 36% predict no change in activity (compared to 42% in September) and 10% forecast an increase in activity (up from 8% last month).

Metalformers also anticipate little change in incoming orders, with 48% of survey respondents expecting a decrease in orders during the next three months (compared to 47% in September), 35% predicting no change (compared to 34% last month) and 17% forecasting an increase in orders (compared to 19% in September).

Current average daily shipping levels dipped in October, with 15% of responding companies reporting an increase in shipping levels (compared to 23% in September), 40% reporting no change (compared to 42% last month) and 45% reporting a decrease in shipping levels (up from 35% in September).

“The October Business Conditions Report shows that PMA members remain concerned about the current economic landscape,” said PMA President David Klotz. “Notably, members in the automotive sector have expressed concern about auto plant shutdowns caused by the ongoing UAW strike. We are pleased that there is a tentative agreement between the UAW and Ford and hope that the entire labor strike is settled soon. Steel-using manufacturers also remain concerned with the US-EU stalemate regarding steel and aluminum tariffs. PMA joins other associations representing metal-using manufacturers in calling for an end to the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs on our country’s close national security allies. U.S. manufacturers need access to globally priced steel supplies as we go head-to-head for business every day with our global competition—without the benefit of tariffs or other forms of protection.”

Twelve percent of metalforming companies reported an increase in lead times in October (compared to only 6% in September). Seven percent of companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in August (decreasing from 8% in September), while 42% of companies are currently expanding their workforce (compared to 40% last month).

Full report results are available at https://www.pma.org/public/business_reports/pdf/BCREP.pdf.

About PMA

PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $137-billion metalforming industry of North America—the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes. Its more than 900 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry. PMA leads companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability through advocacy, networking, statistics, the PMA Educational Foundation, FABTECH tradeshows, and MetalForming magazine.

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