CLEVELAND, OH-According to the January 2011 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA)Business Conditions Report , metalforming companies are optimistic about business conditions during the next three months. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 119 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.

The January report shows that 47% of participants forecast an improvement in economic activity during the next three months (up from 40% in December), 43% predict that activity will remain unchanged (compared to 46% last month) and 10% report that activity will decline (down from 14% in December).

Metalforming companies also expect improvement in incoming orders for the next three months. Fifty-two percent of participants predict an increase in orders (up from 44% in December), 36% anticipate no change (compared to 40% last month) and 12% predict a decrease in orders (down from 16% in December).

Average daily shipping levels remained steady in January. Twenty-six percent of participants report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (compared to 27% in December), 50% report that shipping levels are the same as three months ago (up from 38% last month) and 24% report a decrease in shipping levels (compared to 35% in December).

The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff decreased to 12% in January from 16% in December. The number is at its lowest level since October 2007 when only 8% of companies had workers on short time or layoff, and is much lower than one year ago, when 52% reported employees on short time or layoff in January 2010.

“In spite of a modest year-end softening in orders, metalforming companies experienced significantly improved business conditions in 2010 and anticipate continued growth in 2011,” says William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “On average, for the first 11 months of 2010, metalforming companies reported a 41% increase in orders and a 37% increase in shipments compared to 2009.”

PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $113-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.