Metalforming Companies Face Challenges with Supply and Worker Shortages

PMA’s September report shows that only 26% of metalforming companies forecast an increase in economic activity in the next 3 months as challenges continue with raw materials and worker shortages.

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Metalforming companies expect business conditions during the next 3 months to continue to prove challenging, according to the September 2021 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report. Prepared monthly, the report provides an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 114 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

PMA’s September report shows that only 26% of metalforming companies forecast an increase in economic activity in the next 3 months (decreasing from 29% in August and down 10% compared to July), 56% predict no change (compared to 57% last month) and 18% anticipate a decline in activity (increasing from 14% in August).

Sixty-one percent of respondents reported an increase in lead times, slightly down from 64% in August.

“The September PMA Business Conditions Report reflects the fact that members are facing continued uncertainties related to the supply of raw materials to meet demand, the ongoing chip shortages that are impacting large customers and the continued shortage of workers,” said PMA President David Klotz. “Lead times and skyrocketing prices for raw materials, particularly steel, but also for aluminum, copper, brass and other metals, continue to grow and now extend into 2022 in some cases. The difficulty in finding and maintaining skilled workers is also a major focus for PMA, with our association and members engaged in a proactive campaign to drive awareness about the great careers in our industry and programs to strengthen workforce training such as METALFORM EDU. Additionally, through our One Voice advocacy team in Washington, D.C., we continue to advocate to end the damaging Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs to help increase materials supply.”

READ MORE: Tariff Discussions Need to Continue Says Equipment Manufacturing Industry

Metalformers also expect a decrease in incoming orders in the next 3 months, with 35% forecasting an increase in orders (compared to 41% in August), 42% predicting no change (the same percentage as last month) and 23% anticipating a decrease in orders (compared to 17% in August).

Current average daily shipping levels remained fairly steady in September, with 49% reporting an increase (compared to 46% in August), 36% reporting no change (decreasing from 42% last month) and 15% reporting a decrease (compared to 12% in August).

Four percent of responding metalforming companies had a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff in September, compared to only 2% in August.