Press Room

Press Room

May 2021 Business Conditions Report: Growing Concern About Lead Times Dampens Metalformers’ Outlook

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

For more information, please contact Christie Carmigiano

CLEVELAND, OH—May 19, 2021—Metalforming companies forecast a dip in business conditions during the next three months amid continued supply challenges and increased lead times for steel and other materials, according to the May 2021 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Prepared monthly, the report provides an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 101 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

After two months of showing increased optimism, PMA’s May report shows that only 41% of metalforming companies forecast an improvement in economic activity in the next three months (compared to 56% in April), 49% predict no change (compared to 37% in April) and 10% anticipate a decline in activity (up from 7% in April). 

The May report indicates that lead times continue to increase. When asked about lead times compared to the previous three months, 71% of respondents say that they have increased, up from 64% in April. Increases have continued each month since September 2020, when only 16% reported increased lead times. 

“The May report reflects what I have been hearing from members during my visits to their facilities across the country: There are substantial challenges in finding steel and other raw materials needed to meet growing demand,” said PMA President David Klotz. “Our members continue to report high prices and increased lead times for steel, aluminum, copper, brass and other metals. PMA calls on the Biden administration to terminate the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, which no longer are needed and are one of the main causes for the supply problems experienced by our members. In addition, members also report that the semiconductor shortage that has resulted in the idling of some auto plants are beginning to negatively impact orders.” 

Current average daily shipping levels decreased in May, with 60% reporting an increase (down from 72% in April), 30% reporting no change (compared to 23% last month) and 10% reporting a decrease (up from 5% in April).

The survey also revealed an expectation that incoming orders will decline somewhat in the next three months, with 42% forecasting an increase in orders (down from 58% in April), 44% predicting no change (compared to 33% last month) and 14% anticipating a decrease in orders (compared to 9% in April).

Four percent of responding metalforming companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in May, an increase from only 1% in April.

Full report results are available at

PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $137-billion metalforming industry of North America—the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes. Its nearly 850 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry. PMA leads companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability through advocacy, networking, statistics, the PMA Educational Foundation, FABTECH tradeshows, and MetalForming and 3D Metal Printing magazines.