Business conditions for metalforming companies have been on the rise for the last several months and the outlook was reasonably bright. This was according to statistics gathered by the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), along with its economist Dr. Ken Mayland. The last several issues of the monthly PMA Business Conditions Report identified a 5 to 6-month upward swing based on key measurable — most notably, expectations for general economic activity during the 3 months. This trend line climbed upward without pause since November 2010.
Studying the various market segments, Dr. Mayland expected the sales of automobiles and light trucks to continue to run-up. Dr. Mayland’s thoughts were backed by several industry analysts, including those from IHS Automotive. IHS analysts projected U.S. light-vehicle sales to rebound to 13.1 million units in 2011, from 11.6 million in 2010. Moving forward, IHS predicted a steady uptick in light-vehicle sales through 2017—14.9 million units in 2012, 16 million in 2013, and 17 million units in 2015.
Among the reasons for optimism at IHS are the mending of consumer confidence and trends in the consumer price index (CPI) for new and used cars. The CPI data, according to IHS, hinted that new is cheaper than used. IHS also noted favorable demographic trends that bolstered the long-term outlook for light-vehicle sales in the United States.
All of these facts were considered to be relatively clear skies for suppliers to the automotive market. Survivors amongst the metalforming companies enjoyed a 2-year trend of bringing back the laid-off workers, quantified by the PMA Business Conditions Report. The report indicated a nearly 2-year downward trend in the percentage of companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff. While one year ago, 42 percent reported employees on short time or layoff; today, only 12 percent face that predicament.