Press Room

Press Room

December 2023 Business Conditions Report: Metalformers Continue Expecting Economic Activity to Stabilize

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

For more information, please contact Christie Carmigiano

CLEVELAND, OH—December 19, 2023—Metalforming companies expressed increased confidence that business conditions will continue to stabilize in the first quarter of 2024, according to the December 2023 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Prepared monthly, PMA’s report provides an economic indicator for the next three months of manufacturing, sampling 120 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

PMA’s December report shows that 57% of metalforming companies expect no change in general economic activity in the next three months (compared to 49% in November), 13% anticipate an increase in activity (up from 9% last month) and 30% predict a decrease in activity (dropping significantly from 42% in November).

Metalformers also forecast an improvement in incoming orders, with 29% of survey respondents expecting an increase in orders during the next three months (up from 17% in November), 41% predicting no change in orders (compared to 45% in November) and 30% anticipating a decrease in orders (declining from 38% in November).

Current average daily shipping levels remained steady in December, with 43% reporting no change in shipping levels (compared to 33% in November), 43% reporting a decrease in levels (down from 49% last month) and 14% reporting an increase in shipping levels (compared to 18% in November).

“’Cautious optimism’ is how I would characterize PMA members’ outlook as we enter into the new year,” said PMA President David Klotz. “The PMA December Business Conditions Report suggests that metalformers are navigating ongoing supply-chain problems, rising costs due to inflation and labor shortages. However, this week’s announcement that Nippon Steel will acquire US Steel may result in new challenges. 

“The purchase may mean more disruption in the domestic steel industry that could lead to higher steel prices in this country, which are already the highest in the world in part due to the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs,” Klotz continued. “The sale of US Steel to a foreign competitor is yet another reason why the Biden Administration should immediately remove these tariffs on our national security allies. The tariffs do not apply to the parts produced by metalformers, so our members are at a disadvantage when the cost to purchase steel, which accounts for anywhere between 20% to 60% of input costs, is far higher in this country than the prices paid by our overseas competitors, as customers could choose to source the product from overseas. We will continue to raise these concerns through our One Voice for Manufacturing advocacy team in Washington, D.C.”

Only 7% of metalforming companies reported an increase in lead times in December (down from 13% in November). Seven percent of companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in December (compared to 6% in November), while 37% of companies are currently expanding their workforce (compared to 36% last month). 

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 more than 900 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 magazine.