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PMA Poll: Orders on the Rise for Metal Manufacturers

Yet another development shows the global coronavirus pandemic’s unique impact on U.S. manufacturing trends: After a sharp downturn in the first few months of the crisis, fabrication and metalworking companies are more optimistic about the future.

The remote machine monitoring platform MachineMetrics has tracked U.S. machine tool utilization since the pandemic began. After sharp declines in April and late May, the seven-day rolling average as of June 19 was 25.3%, a 1 point increase from the previous week and heading upward toward 2019 levels.

For the first time since the global coronavirus pandemic began, North America’s metal manufacturers are optimistic about economic activity and incoming orders. After bottoming out in April, a Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) survey reflecting the views of 115 manufacturing members as of June 1 shows they expect business to improve over the next three months:

Economic Activity

  • 53% predict an improvement, increasing from 22% in May
  • 27% expect no change, up from 24% in May
  • 20% expect a decline, a significant decrease from 54% in May.

Incoming Orders

  • 57% expect an increase, compared to 14% who expected an increase in May
  • 24% expect no change, compared to 16% in May
  • 19% expect a decrease, a sharp decline from 70% in May.

Average Daily Shipping Levels

  • 9% reported an increase, compared to 3% in May
  • 10% reported no change, compared to 11% in May
  • 81% reported lower levels than three months ago, down from 86% in May.

As states lift stay-at-home orders, more companies are bringing more employees back in to work. Forty-three percent of survey respondents reported having a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff, a decrease from 50% in May. This is the highest percentage recorded since January 2010.

“Members are working to overcome the significant challenges created by COVID-19, continuing or restarting operations while protecting the safety of their employees,” says PMA President David Klotz. “Our Washington team also successfully advocated for modifications to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. The legislation passed by Congress included provisions we supported, such as extending the term for loan forgiveness. This will give manufacturers more time to rehire workers.”

Full report results are available at

PMA represents North America’s $137-billion market in stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming, roll forming, and other value-added processes. Nearly 800 member companies include equipment, materials, and services suppliers.



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