Machine shops are sound, but growing less rapidly

Aug. 1, 2006

Machine tool users are more financially sound but are growing less rapidly than earlier in the year, as the U.S. economy reacts to high interest rates and oil prices. Tooling (molds, stamping dies and extrusion dies) appears to be holding up better than production, and if the recent weakening of the U.S. dollar continues and the Federal Reserve does not attempt to strengthen the dollar with higher interest rates, long-term manufacturing growth is likely, according to the monthly Charmilles' Machining Business Activity Index.
The Charmilles Index dropped moderately to 62 from 67 in May. The Index is created through a survey of machine tool users concerning their current business level versus three months earlier. Readings above 50 indicate that business activity has improved.
The improvement in business activity was strongest in the captive production sector and was uniformly strong in all regions. Historical data is shown, along with a detailed breakdown of results by geographic region and application/sector at
The approximately 126,000 U.S. companies that use machine tools have about 2 million machine tools and 750,000 to 1,000,000 directly related employees (toolmakers, machinists, operators, programmers and so on). Almost all mid-size to large manufacturing companies use, and periodically purchase or lease, machine tools.