Metalformers surveyed by PMA said they expect orders and shipments will continue to rise or at least remain constant during the next three months. Specifically, 43% of participants expect an improvement in economic activity during the next three months, while 52% of metalformers predict that activity will remain unchanged—up from 49% last month. Interestingly, only 5% of respondents report that activity will decline—down from 6% in February.

Metalformers also forecast steady incoming orders during the next three months, according to the March report. Forty-eight percent of metalformers surveyed expect increased orders—compared to 54% in February—while 42% expect no change, up from 32% the previous month. Meanwhile, 10% of metalformers predict a decrease in orders, which is down from 14% in February.

More encouraging news: The number of metalformers with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff continued to trend downward, with 42% reporting workers on short time or layoff in March, compared to 47% in February.

“PMA’s manufacturing members are experiencing 20-30% increases in orders and shipments compared to year-ago levels, when shipping levels were declining precipitously in Q-1 and Q-2 of 2009,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. Metalformers remain cautious about the mid- and long-term outlook, but in the near term, business continues to improve, he added.  

The full March report is available online.