Metalforming companies in North America expect a spike in business conditions during the next three months - and they reported the highest employment levels in 5 years, according to the February 2012 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report.
PMA President William E. Gaskin noted that responses in the February 2012 report were similar to those in February 2011, but noted that rapid growth in 2011 was cut short by the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and by the supply chain disruptions that followed.
"An important question for the outlook in 2012 is whether external factors, such as occurred in 2011, will again negatively impact growth in manufacturing," said Gaskin. "Important issues that may constrain growth include difficulty hiring skilled employees and potentially higher material prices, due to low inventories of flat-rolled metal."
The February report shows that:
* 51% of participants expect economic activity to improve in the next three months (up from 41% in the January report)
* 45% expect activity will remain unchanged (54% in the January report)
* 4% report activity will decline (5% in the January report)
Incoming orders are also expected to improve during the next three months:
* 56% of metalformers in the February report forecast an increase in orders (51% in the January report)
* 33% expect no change (40% in the January report)
* 11% predict a decrease in orders (9% in January)
Average daily shipping levels showed a rise in the February report:
* 45% of participants report shipping levels above levels of three months ago (up from 30% in the January report)
* 45% report shipping levels are the same as three months ago (48% in the January report)
* 10% report a decrease in shipping levels (22% in the January report)
Metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff dropped in the February report to 7%, from 12% in the January report. This index last hit 7% in December 2006.
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