Several key findings from the May 2011 PMA Business Conditions Report: 55% predict that activity will remain unchanged—compared to 45% last month—while 22% report that activity will decline, up from 15% in April. Only 23% of participants forecast an improvement in economic activity during the next three months; this is down from 40% in April.

Metalforming companies also expect a drop in incoming orders over the next three months, with 27% predicting a decrease in orders—up from 20% in April and 47% anticipating no change—compared to 38% last month. Only 26% predict an increase in orders—down significantly from 42% in April.

“During the first quarter of 2011, metalforming companies experienced orders 17 percent above Q-1 2010 and shipments 18 percent higher than 2010, on average,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “The May Business Conditions report clearly indicates there is softening in expectations for the balance of the second quarter and into the summer months, which is at least in part due to the supply-chain disruptions in the automotive and electronic sectors caused by the earthquake in Japan.”

Uncertainties in how and when the U.S. Congress will address the debt ceiling, lower than anticipated GDP performance, and the continued slow recovery in homebuilding and construction industries also are contributing to lowered expectations,” Gaskin added.