Manufacturers' recent faith in an improving economy has diminished, according to the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for the manufacturing world, sampling 206 manufacturing companies. Information is based on conditions as of March 1, 2004.
After 4 consecutive months of rising optimism, survey respondents were more cautious when asked how they envisioned the trend of economic activity over the next 3 months compared with today. Half of the participants believed that activity would increase, down from 63 percent in February.
An estimated 40 percent expected conditions to remain the same, and 10 percent projected a decline. The results higher than most of 2003, when the average percentage of those expecting an increase in activity was 35 percent, and the average anticipating a decrease was 14 percent.
Forecasts for incoming orders followed a similar pattern. In the survey, 55 percent of respondents said that their orders would increase over the next 3 months compared with today, down from 67 percent in February, while 11 percent thought orders would decrease, and 34 percent projected that they would remain the same.
The survey also found that 17 percent of respondents were working with reduced staff, as compared to 13 percent in February.
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