Coming in at 57.7, the current conditions component remained in expansionary territory for December. The decline from 78.1 points a month earlier was driven by a sharp increase in the share of respondents who noted unchanged conditions. Reports of worse conditions remained a relatively small fraction of all responses. Comments reflected a picture of continued, though marginal, improvement in the current environment faced by electrical manufacturers.
Following a modest stumble in October, confidence in electroindustry business conditions surged once again, reaching 78.1 in November. A majority of respondents noted "better" conditions, but some residual of "worse" conditions response remained. Comments were generally reflective of the improved index number, although a cautionary observation indicated that a greater share of year-end work was delayed than has been the case in recent years.
It was a nearly inevitable that the current conditions component would pull back from the historic high point of 85.3 it reached last month. Though sharp, the retreat to 52.8 still indicated favorable growth conditions, just at a slower pace. A plurality of respondents noted that conditions were unchanged from September to October. Commentors skewed slightly to the negative, but with one notable exception pointing out a rapid breakdown, most comments alluded to either modest growth or slight slowing in the current period.
No month has fared better when compared to the previous month than September 2020 scored vis a vis August. With not one report of outright worse conditions, and nearly three-quarters indicating a better business environment, the current conditions gauge
rose nearly 17 points to an all-time high reading of 85.3. The tenor of respondent comments helps to highlight a caveat regarding the topline number. Despite the record-setting reading, business was not necessarily booming but was better across most of
the electroindustry when assessed against last month. As one panelist noted, conditions were “improving slowly.”
With a majority of respondents reporting better conditions, the current component of the Electroindustry Business Confidence Index increased by more than seven points, reaching 68.4 this month. In retrospect, July's survey results pointed to a relatively widespread sense of a plateau in the market, but in August only around one-third of the panel indicated unchanged conditions. Comments largely reflected the Improvement suggested by the numbers, with one panelist noting that, "order rates are strong."
Ticking down a nearly-imperceptible 1.4 points, the current conditions component remained firmly in expansion territory at 61.1 in July. The share of respondents that reported unchanged conditions increased, while those indicating better conditions edged
back slightly. Some sectors of the electroindustry continued to note robust activity, but many comments suggested a plateau of sorts at an elevated level compared to the pandemic trough. Further expansion may be constrained because of continued uncertainty
about the course of the virus and responses to it.
Bearing in mind that the EBCI measures perceived changes relative to a
prior time period, the current conditions component for June marked a vast
Improvement versus May, gaining 30 points to 62.5. The June result validated
the assumption that conditions facing the electroindustry hit bottom in April,
and expansion relative to that low point and a dismal May has begun. Some
corners of the industry have thrived throughout the pandemic and continued to
do so this month. Even among those sectors that had struggled, the tone of
comments improved in June reflecting an assessment that "business is still
spotty but the level of day-to-day activity... is picking up."
Still deep in contractionary territory, the current conditions component
for May nevertheless pointed to the likelihood that the electroindustry
bottomed out in April and began clawing back toward growth this month. The
nearly 17-point increase to 32.4 point from April to May was driven largely by
a significant decline in the share of panelists that reported worse conditions
this month. Very few additional respondents rated conditions as better, but
many more registered unchanged conditions, suggesting that the bleeding has
stopped for now. Survey results regarding current conditions may have been best
summarized by the comment that “although not great, April is better than
With lockdown policies fully in effect across most of the country, the current
conditions component fell by more than 15 points to 15.8 in April. The last
time this reading had drifted so far below 50, the United States was in the
midst of the 2007-2009 recession.
Some parts of the electroindustry were reporting healthy business in March,
but most respondents were already reporting worsening conditions by the middle
of the month. The current conditions component, with a majority of panel
members reporting worse conditions, shrunk to 31.3 points in March from last
month’s reading of 50. Most of the responses were submitted prior to the wave
of state-imposed “stay in place” and lockdown orders and so appear to be more
reflective of reduced demand driven by uncertainty than by the effect of
Current conditions retreated in February but did not fall back out of
expansionary territory. The 9-point slide from last month's result left the
February number at 50 points. The share of respondents noting better conditions
declined, while the number reporting worse conditions increased by a similar
amount. The proportion of unchanged responses held steady. Much of the
commentary contained a sense of optimism shot through with concern over the
coronavirus and its effects on supply chains.
For the fifth consecutive month the current conditions component of the
EBCI topped or equaled 50 points, which signaled conditions conducive to an
expanding electroindustry. At 59.4, a 9.4 point increase from December’s level,
the January score marked this component’s highest reading since June 2018. A
majority of panelists reported unchanged conditions, but the share of responses
noting better conditions increased by 20 percentage points from last month.
Despite the overall manufacturing malaise reflected in the Institute for Supply
Management (ISM) survey results, confidence in the electroindustry remained
steady to improved.