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Electroindustry Business Conditions Index

​The EBCI indexes are based on the results of a monthly survey of senior managers at NEMA member companies and are designed to provide a measure of changes in the business environment facing electrical equipment manufacturers.

For more information, e-mail NEMA's Business Information Services.


2020  |  2019  |  2018  |  2017

December 2019

​In the wake of the vast majority of panel members’ reporting unchanged conditions, the December current conditions component narrowed to 50 points after hitting 58.8 last month. An undercurrent of unease and uncertainty rippled through many comments, touching on trade concerns, weakness in the industrial sector, and the impeachment drama. However, similar to last month’s report, the quantitative results were probably best reflected in the remark noting, “business conditions [are] steady but at a high level.  EBCI results 20191224nm.pdf

November 2019

After two months of straddling the line between signaling growth or slowdown, the EBCI current conditions component moved firmly into growth territory with a nearly 9 point increase from last month’s score to 58.8. Although the share of “better” responses increased, the preponderance of panelists noted unchanged conditions, and that mix is reflected well in the comments. The tenor of those remarks was largely unenthusiastic but somewhat positive-leaning and may be best summarized by one respondent’s note that conditions are “steady but at a strong level.”  ​EBCI results 20191127nm.pdf

October 2019

The current conditions reading held steady at 50 this month, equaling September’s index value and once again teetering on the line indicating expansion. One noteworthy change in the distribution of responses was a decline in the share of those who reported worse conditions in October compared to last month. Some panel members expressed lingering concerns about the political and policy environment as well as the general direction of the economy. Despite such reservations, other commenters pointed to steady or even improved activity in their business sectors.  ​EBCI results 20191030nm.pdf

September 2019

The current conditions component crept up to growth territory this month, bouncing back from August’s 41.2 to reach an index value of 50 in September. Although a preponderance of panel members still reported unchanged conditions, the share of responses indicating better conditions edged up several percentage points. With only brief exceptions, this measure has remained largely range-bound in the low 50s to upper 40s since mid-2018. Commenters noted weakness in both long-term and short cycle spending alongside reports of steady to strong growth.  ​EBCI results 20190927nm.pdf

August 2019

​The nearly 12 point decline in the current conditions component, which now stands at 41.2 for August, was largely driven by a drop in the share of respondents that reported better conditions, coupled with an increase of similar magnitude in the proportion that noted unchanged conditions. The current component’s relapse to a reading of less than 50 was accompanied by continuing concerns about the uncertain nature of trade and tariff policy intermixed with reports of strong markets in some sectors.  EBCI results 20190828nm.pdf

July 2019

​As one commenter noted, with “[n]o real explanation” readily available for the better than expected business conditions reported by the EBCI panel, the current conditions component leapt by more than 18 points from last month’s level to move back into expansion territory at 52.8 points in July. Although trade policy continued to weigh on business confidence, and weakness in the industrial sector was noted as well, a preponderance of panelists reported better conditions this month, and the share of those indicating worse conditions dropped sharply.  EBCI results 20190731nm.pdf

June 2019

At 34.4, the current component of the Electrical Industry Business Confidence Index suggested that business conditions may have softened in June. The nearly 16 point drop from the prior month reflected a complex mix of responses ranging from concern over the negative effects of ongoing tariff-related actions, to the salutary impact of those same trade moves, to continued or even increased strength in the market. Twenty percent of the panel reported unchanged conditions, which left the remaining 80 percent of responses evenly split between those noting better or worse conditions this month.​ EBCI results 20190626nm.pdf

May 2019

​The current conditions component edged lower for the third consecutive month in May, moving from a reading of 52.8 in April to 50.0 this month. The share of panelists who reported unchanged conditions dropped sharply, and although the proportion of respondents that indicated better conditions increased over last month, the percentage that noted worse conditions increased by an even greater amount. For better or for worse, tariffs served as the focus for most comments, but one remark simply pointed out that this has been the “best start to the year” in some time.  EBCI results 20190529nm.pdf

April 2019

Much like last month, confidence in business conditions remained in positive territory despite edging down from the previous reading. Even in the face of a half-point slide from 53.3 in March to 52.8 this month, the current component stayed above 50 for now the fourth consecutive month. The share of those reporting unchanged conditions increased over last month, while the proportion of panel members that noted either better or worse conditions decreased. Comments largely reflected the lukewarm numerical result, as perhaps the most representative remark suggested that “business seems to be good but not great.” ​EBCI results 20190424nm.pdf

March 2019

​Despite a slight drop, from 55.9 last month to 53.3 in March, the current conditions component remained in expansionary territory. The share of manufacturers that noted unchanged conditions increased as reports of both better and worse conditions ​declined. Alt​hough no glaring concerns surfaced, some comments cited policy uncertainty, especially related to tariffs, as well as the desire that federal policymakers turn their attention to the nation's infrastructure needs.​ EBCI results 20190327nm.pdf

February 2019

In edging up to 55.9 in February from 53.3 last month, the EBCI current conditions component moved further into expansionary territory and solidified a shift away from a handful of sub-50 readings late in 2018. Fewer respondents perceived a plateau this month, as the share of the panel that reported unchanged conditions declined. Although the share of those who indicated worse conditions ticked up, the proportion of those who saw better conditions outpaced them. Healthy activity on respondents’ books and some good economic news were only somewhat tempered by continued concern about instability from policymakers. EBCI results 20190227nm.pdf

January 2019

​The current conditions component moved above 50 for the first time since last August, adding 7 points to last month’s mark to reach 53.3 in January. The responses presented a much more straightforward view than in recent months as the share of respondents that noted better conditions increased compared to last month, and the proportion of those who reported unchanged or worse conditions declined. Although some comments alluded to unease because of trade policy and the partial federal government shutdown, one respondent described a solid start to the year. EBCI results 20190130nm.pdf

December 2018

The current conditions component of the Electroindustry Business Conditions Index bounced back from last month’s 36.7, but at 46.2 points it did not return to expansionary territory. As with November’s results, a majority of respondents reported unchanged conditions. Although the number of panel members that noted better conditions remained relatively sparse, the share of those whose companies experienced worse conditions declined by 10 percentage points from November to December.​ EBCI results 20181226nm.pdf

November 2018

For the second time in three months, the current conditions component of the EBCI has dropped below 50, giving up more than 13 points from last month to a reading of 36.7 in November. This marks the lowest point in the series since August 2012. Although the share of respondents that reported worse conditions increased to 33 percent, a solid majority – 60 percent – noted unchanged conditions. ​EBCI results 20181128nm.pdf

October 2018

An uptick in the share of respondents that reported unchanged conditions, combined with a decline in the number of responses indicating a worsening business environment, have boosted the current component of the EBCI to an expansionary reading by the narrowest of margins. October’s score of 50.0 is nearly 4 points higher than last month’s. The underlying distribution reflects conditions that have been perceived as positive for 24 months and are now finely balanced with equal upside and downside risks. ​EBCI results 20181031nm.pdf

September 2018

September 2018‘s reading of 46.4 marks the first time since September 2016 that the current conditions component dipped below 50. With the exception of a one-month blip in June, the current conditions measure has been generally trending down since February of this year. Although fully half of the panel reported unchanged conditions, the share of those noting worse conditions increased by 10 percentage points from August’s results. Comments were mixed, with one mentioning transportation bottlenecks as a limiting factor. ​EBCI results 20180926nm.pdf

August 2018

​The current conditions component declined slightly in August, but remained in expansionary territory at 53.8. A majority of respondents indicated conditions were unchanged from last month’s robust business environment. Interestingly, the share of those who reported better conditions crept up marginally but so did the proportion that noted facing worse conditions. Several panel members mentioned tariffs were a concern and in more than one case had already begun affecting their businesses. EBCI results 20180831nm.pdf

July 2018

The current component of the EBCI pulled back sharply in July, but remained above the level indicative of conditions conducive to growth at 53.8. The 15.4 point fall from the previous month was the steepest such decline since December 2015, but was less a sign of deteriorating conditions than of hitting a plateau as all of the change was attributable to a substantially greater share of respondents noting that conditions were unchanged. EBCI results 20180727nm.pdf

June 2018

​A nine point jump brought June's current conditions component to its highest reading since January of this year. Although a larger share of respondents noted worse conditions this month than last, those reporting better conditions constituted a majority in June, helping to bring the overall score to 69.2. The solid topline number was tempered by respondent comments that pointed to an undercurrent of uncertainty along with sector specific struggles brought about by trade actions and the tax bill. EBCI results 20180628nm.pdf

May 2018

The current conditions component of the EBCI remained essentially flat in May, ticking down by statistically imperceptible 0.7 points from April to a value of 60.0 this month. The share of respondents that reported better conditions edged down by a slight percentage while those who noted unchanged conditions edged up by a similarly small margin. Panel member commentary largely supported the numerical results, with mostly positive remarks about activity levels shaded by trade and raw material cost concerns. ​EBCI results 20180531nm.pdf

April 2018

Current conditions facing the electroindusty held steady in April at an index value of 6 0.7, matching last month's reading exactly. The share of respondents reporting better conditions increased somewhat, but so did the share of those indicating worse conditions. Recent Census Bureau data point to a slight decline in the value of shipments in the broad electrical equipment sector even as orders activity ticked up, a situation touched upon in one respondent’s comment. ​EBCI results 20180430nm.pdf

March 2018

​Although the year has started more slowly than some of the panel would prefer, there were no complaints about the current conditions facing the electroindustry this month—literally no complaints. With not even a single response indicating worse conditions, the current conditions component ticked down imperceptibly from 61.8 to 60.7 as most panel members noted unchanged conditions. Census Bureau reporting on electroindustry shipments shows some improvement so far this quarter, which lends support to the expansionary level of current conditions suggested by the survey results. EBCI results 20180328nm.pdf

February 2018

Some EBCI panel members noted softer conditions in February relative to the strength of recent months. The share of those reporting worse conditions this month increased while the proportion of “better” responses declined, lending quantitative support to the anecdotal information. Despite sliding nearly 10 points to 61.8, February’s current conditions component remained firmly in expansionary territory. The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data depicted a similar mixed for last December when year over year electroindustry shipments grew by almost 4 percent while new orders ticked down slightly. ​EBCI results 20180228nm.pdf

January 2018

The current conditions component of the electroindustry business confidence index moved up from 66.7 in December to 71.4 this month. Fully one-half of the survey panel noted better conditions in January as the share of those indicating an unchanged business environment declined. Although the proportion of respondents reporting worse conditions edged up, one such member’s comment made it clear that January was worse only because the previous month was “amazing.” The expansionary reading of current conditions in January marked the 16th consecutive month this component topped 50, making it the longest such stretch since before the last recession. It is worth nothing that this upbeat sentiment has yet to materialize in hard data for some segments of the electroindustry such as lighting and manufacturing-related equipment, which have experienced declining shipment numbers reported by the U.S. Census Bureau on a year-over-year basis for most of 2017.​ EBCI results 20180131nm.pdf

December 2017

​Though still well into the expansionary range denoted by a score of greater than 50, the current conditions component eased from 69.2 to 66.7 in December. The shares of respondents reporting better conditions and those indicating a worsening business environment both declined while the proportion of “unchanged” responses increased. EBCI results 20171227nm.pdf

November 2017

​Confidence in the current conditions facing the electroindustry edged up in November as the share of respondents that reported worse conditions dropped markedly. The overall current conditions component increased from 64.7 to 69.2 in November. The increase in the topline measure was driven by a nearly 10 point decline in the percentage of respondents noting worse conditions. EBCI results 20171129nm.pdf

October 2017

The current conditions component of NEMA’s Electroindustry Business Confidence Index edged down from 68.8 points in September to 64.7 this month, a reading still well within the range considered to be indicative of expansion in the electroindustry. The largest shift from last month came from the share of respondents that noted worse conditions, which increased by more than five percentage points to 18 percent in October. The proportion of panel members reporting better conditions fell from 50percent in September to 47 this month, while the percentage of those indicating unchanged conditions similarly declined from 38 to 35 percent.​ EBCI results 20171025nm.pdf

September 2017

NEMA’s Business Confidence current conditions index improved for the second month in a row, with September’s value edging up three points to 68.8. The higher score is attributable exclusively to sentiment shifting away from “unchanged.” The share of panel members that reported better conditions edged up six points to 50 percent in September while the proportion that saw unchanged conditions was six percentage points fewer than in August. The segment of respondents noting “worse” conditions remained stable at 13 percent. EBCI results 20170927nm.pdf

August 2017

​The current conditions index rebounded 12.3 points in August to 65.6, erasing last month’s decline. The August reading is still 10.9 points below the recent high of 76.5 reached in March. The stronger reading resulted from a larger proportion of respondents – 44 percent in August versus 20 percent in July – that reported better conditions. The share of panel members that noted worsening conditions remained flat at 13 percent. Meanwhile 44 percent responded that conditions were unchanged in August compared to 67 percent in July. Some of those surveyed cited strong demand and solid fundamentals, while others reported declines in industrial business lines. EBCI results 20170830nm.pdf

July 2017

​The current conditions index slid by more than 20 points from the near-term high of 76.5 reached in March of this year. As recently as last month, the current conditions index topped 60 but fell 7.2 points to reach July’s value of 53.3. Most of the change came from a larger share of respondents – 67 percent in July versus 58 percent last month – who reported unchanged conditions. The share of those who noted that conditions are worse increased by only 2 points to 13 percent this month. Some respondents mentioned sluggishness in key markets, while others noted improving economic conditions overall and the seasonal boost typical of summertime. EBCI results 20170726nm.pdf

June 2017

The current conditions index’s 10-point slide from 70.6 in May to 60.5 this month brings it to the lowest level since November 2016. Nevertheless, because it remains above 50, the index value is still in the expansionary range. The share of those reporting better conditions dropped by 15 percentage points from May to June, but most of that sentiment shifted to “unchanged” as that component jumped 11 points from 47 percent last month to 58 percent in June. The proportion of panel members noting worse conditions edged up to 11 percent from 6 percent in May.​ EBCI results 20170628nm.pdf

May 2017

The current and future confidence indexes moved in lockstep for the third consecutive month, each pulling back nominally from 73.5 last month to 70.6 in May. At this level the indexes remain well into expansionary range, even as the current conditions responses suggest a movement toward a sense of status quo with the six percentage point decline in those registering better conditions – from 53 percent in April to 47 percent now – taken up entirely by the six point increase, to 47 percent, in those seeing unchanged conditions. Those witnessing worse conditions held steady at 6 percent. Comments were largely positive, with a dash of uncertainty about specific end use sectors including the industrial and utility markets.​ EBCI results 20170531nm.pdf

April 2017

​For the second month in a row, the current and future conditions index values matched up exactly, as both edged down from 76.5 in March to April’s reading of 73.5. Although the topline values were identical, the underlying response patterns diverged. In the current conditions measure, 53 percent of the respondents reported better conditions this month, down from 59 percent in March. On the flip side, the share of panel members noting unchanged conditions increased by 6 percentage points to 41 percent in April, while those seeing worse conditions held steady at 6 percent. EBCI results 20170426nm.pdf

March 2017

In moving from 72.2 last month to 76.5 in March, the NEMA Electroindustry Business Confidence current conditions index reached its highest level since September 2005. Although some executives remarked on confusion in Washington and flashes of social unrest, signs of a strengthening economy noted by others were apparently widespread among panel members. The share of those indicating better business conditions increased by 9 percentage points to 59 percent this month, and all of that increase came as a result of a 9 percentage point drop in the “unchanged” conditions category, from 44 percent in February to 35 percent in March. Like last month, only 6 percent reported worse conditions.​ EBCI results 20170329nm.pdf

February 2017

At an aggregate level business confidence remained unchanged in February, hitting the same 72.2 mark as in January. A sense of wait-and-see has crept into some of the comments, resulting in 11 point drops in the percentage of respondents reporting both better and worse conditions, along with a 22 point increase in the share of those who see current conditions as unchanged. Despite the internal churning, the current conditions index remains quite firmly in the expansionary range. EBCI results 20170222nm.pdf

January 2017

​Mixed in with guarded optimism, panel comments also noted some market softness and uncertainty about the policy course being charted by Washington. Nevertheless, buoyed by a surge of respondents reporting better conditions the current conditions index moved to 72.2, which is the highest reading in nearly 4 years. Most of the movement came from fewer panelists reporting unchanged conditions: only 22 percent in January versus 44 percent last month. Although some of that exodus resulted in a 6 point increase in those seeing worse conditions, 61 percent registered better conditions now compared to 44 percent in December. EBCI results 20170125nm.pdf




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