Assembly Lines: Steel Manufacturers Have High Hopes for 2003
CLEVELAND—U.S. steel parts manufacturers have a hopeful economic outlook for this year, according to Precision Metalforming Association’s (PMA) December 2002 Business Conditions Report.
This report marks the first time in 6 months that the steel industry has been offered encouraging news. Impacted predominantly by the Section 201 steel tariffs imposed by President Bush, the steel-consuming industry of 13 million U.S. workers has absorbed price increases, supply disruptions and business and financial losses.
When asked to voice their expectations for general economic activity for the next 3 months, 28 percent of participants predicted that activity would increase, up from 20 percent in November. Only 15 percent expected a downward trend, a 17 percent decrease from November. The remaining respondents, 57 percent, thought conditions would remain the same.
Participants expressed further optimism in their expectations for incoming orders during the next 3 months. Thirty-two percent predicted that orders would increase, up from 26 percent in November and 22 percent in October. Although the economic confidence hasn’t reached the pretariff height, when 65 percent of respondents expected orders to increase, the numbers have become more positive over the last 2 months. Only 18 percent believed that orders would decrease, a decrease from November’s 34 percent. The remaining 50 percent expected incoming orders to remain the same.
The survey also asks companies if they have cut hours or laid off workers. Twenty-six percent of participants reported that they have (down 5 percent from November), but 74 percent replied that they have not (an improvement from November’ s 69 percent).