Manufacturers are expecting a mostly steady economy, according to the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for the manufacturing world, sampling 186 manufacturing companies. Information is based on conditions as of April 1, 2004.
Companies are predicting that over the next 3 months, general economic activity will continue to be positive or at least remain the same. Forty-nine percent of respondents expect business conditions to improve (down just one percent from last month), 43 percent said that activity would remain the same, and 8 percent thought it would decrease. These expectations, though down slightly from the previous few months, are still more positive than most of 2002 and 2003.
PMA said that ,anufacturers are still expecting incoming orders to increase over the next 3 months. Results for two consecutive months have indicated lower expectations than early 2004, but this may be the usual cyclical decline as summer approaches, PMA said. Fifty-one percent of participants predicted that orders would increase (down from 55 percent in March), 36 percent anticipated no change, and 13 percent said orders would drop.
Since November 2003, fewer companies are experiencing short time or layoffs in plant workforce, PMA said. Until the end of 2000, layoffs were reported at a 7 percent average. It was during the last quarter of 2000 where layoffs started to increase to a high of 49 percent in December 2001. In the April 2004 report, 15 percent of responding companies indicated that they have workforce on short time or layoff (a two percent improvement from last month).
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