North American manufacturers are again forecasting sunny skies for their businesses in the areas of economic activity and incoming orders, according to the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for the manufacturing world, sampling 195 manufacturing companies in North America. Information is based on conditions as of Feb. 1, 2004.
The first survey question asks metalformers to compare the trend of economic activity for the next 3 months with today. Sixty-three percent anticipated that activity would increase (up 4 percent from last month and the highest mark in more than 2 years). According to PMA, the 63 percent figure is "staggering," as it is quadruple the percentage of respondents who answered this question in October of 2002 and double that of only 7 months ago. Five percent expected economic activity to decrease, while 32 percent predicted conditions would remain the same.
The survey results peaked again when participants were asked to report on the trend of incoming orders during the next 3 months compared with today. The majority -- 67 percent -- said that orders would increase. The figure is the highest number in more than 2 years, and up from 61 percent last month. Only 7 percent thought that orders would drop.
Hopefulness was also evident in the question asking how many companies have work force on short time or layoff. Thirteen percent answered "yes" -- a 6-percent improvement from January, and according to PMA, "the most encouraging number since before 2002."
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