Rates Dipping

A 1.5% average drop in machine-hour rates in the fourth quarter of 2002 was reported by 183 custom injection molders responding to our latest semi-annual survey.

A 1.5% average drop in machine-hour rates in the fourth quarter of 2002 was reported by 183 custom injection molders responding to our latest semi-annual survey. This followed a 1.3% drop in the mid-year survey and was the fourth drop in a row over a period of two years. Fourteen percent of molders said their rates had dropped in the fourth quarter, while 6% said they had raised rates, and 80% left their rates unchanged. These percentages are about the same as those obtained at mid-year. The only area of the country where more molders raised rates than dropped them was the North Central region, where 11% charged more and 8.5% charged less.


Capacity usage flat

Meanwhile, molders reported that their average capacity utilization was unchanged from the mid-year level of 53%. However, more molders (40%) saw their capacity utilization drop than saw it rise (24%) at the end of 2002, while the reverse was true at mid-year.

The lowest utilization rates at the end of 2002 occurred in the Southeast region, which had enjoyed the highest levels for the preceding year. The highest utilization rates in the current survey were in the North Central states.

The general level of optimism about near-term business conditions also sagged a bit at the end of 2002. Only 50% of molders saw improving conditions ahead (down from 54% at mid-year) while 19.5% saw worsening business conditions (up from 14%) and 30% saw no change in the near term. The level of optimism was highest in among Northeastern molders and lowest in the Southeast.

One final indicator of the slump in molding is the 9.3% decline in new mold orders reported by 110 mold shops nationwide. Though mold orders have de clined over most of the last three years, this was the sharpest decline reported since the end of 2001. 


Deduct these amountsa from the figures in the larger table to arrive at rates without profit, operator, or both.

Press Tonnage OperatorWithout ProfitWithout OperatorWithout Either
aCumulative national averages over many surveys.



(183 PLANTS)

Dollars Per Hour (High/Average/Low) 4th Quarter 2002

Tonnage Range<5050-99100-299300-499500-749750-9991000-14991500-19992000-29993000+Indexb
(ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI, NY, NJ, PA)
$36.40$38.00$43.00$46.41$55.25$53.72    83
(DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV)
$30.02$38.15$43.72$50.54$60.52$80.00    84
North Central
(IL, IN, MI, OH, WI, IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD)
South Central
(AL, KY, MS, TN, AR, LA, OK, TX)
(CA, OR, WA, AK, HI, AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY)
$40.49$45.43$51.76$55.14$78.05     100
National Averagec
Average Change in Hourly Rates In Fourth Quarter 2002: -1.5%
a An adjustment factor is used where data do not already include profit and labor. b Relative to highest-cost region (which equals 100); value shown is a weighted average for all size ranges. c Weighted geographically according to Plastics Technology's Manufacturing Census.


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