A newly released report from the Precision Metalforming Association, PMA, shows that 22% of participants believe that economic activity will improve during the next three months. That’s up from 19% in November. By comparison, 49% predict that activity will remain unchanged, while 29% expect activity to decline--down from 36% in November.

Other key findings from the survey: Metalforming companies forecast an uptick in incoming orders during the next three months, with 33% anticipating an increase in orders. That’s up from 28% in November. By comparison, 39% expecting no change--the same percentage reported last month--and 28% predict a decrease in orders, down from 33% in November.

On the employment front, the percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff remained at 17% in December, the same number reported in November. The December figure is higher than it was one year ago when metalformers reported only 12% of workers on short time or layoff.

William E. Gaskin, PMA president, offered his observations. “The average PMA member company has experienced 6% growth in orders and shipments for the first 11 months of 2012 vs. 2011, so most have had an ‘OK’ year and should be poised to continue investing. However, uncertainty about how the President and Congress will resolve the tax and spending issues that stand in the way of continued economic recovery has them far more pessimistic than they were at this time last year.”

Gaskin noted that in December 2011, only 12 percent of PMA’s members expected incoming orders to be down during the first three months of 2012. Today, however, 28 percent feel that the first three months of 2013 will be down.

Similarly, last December, 40 percent of PMA members surveyed expected orders to be rising during the first quarter of 2012; today, only 33 percent believe orders will rise during the first quarter of 2013.

PMA calls on President Obama and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to quickly resolve these political issues so the manufacturing sector can create new jobs and provide economic certainty for its employees,” Gaskin concluded.