NLB Reports Jump In NEMA Lighting Systems Index

The National Lighting Bureau (NLB) reports that second quarter 2012 NEMA Lighting Systems Index (LSI) performance gained almost 3% over first-quarter 2012’s performance and 6.6% over second quarter 2011’s. NLB Executive Director John Bachner hailed the data as “cause for continued optimism, especially so, because all five categories of lighting systems products tracked by the Index registered solid gains compared to the second quarter of 2011.”

Established in 1998, NEMA’s LSI is a composite measure of luminaires, ballasts, miniature lamps, large lamps, and emergency lighting shipped nationally and internationally from the U.S. by the 450 companies that comprise the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Adjusted for the season and inflation, the Index uses 2002 data for its 100-point benchmark.

According to NEMA International Economist Tana Farrington, the continued uptick in construction activity, while slow, seems steady. She observed, “Building permits rose nearly 7% to 812,000 from June to July, the highest in almost four years. Total housing starts are projected to climb from 612,000 units in 2011 to 755,000 in 2012, 886,000 in 2013, and 1.11 million in 2014.”

However, nonresidential construction is not faring as well; advance data for the second quarter of 2012 indicates an almost 4% drop on an annualized basis, in part because of a significant decline in publicly funded infrastructure investment.On a positive note, Farrington pointed out that “commercial construction fared somewhat better, posting a second consecutive quarter of near 10% annualized growth.”

Farrington and Bachner concurred that a sustained turnaround will not likely occur before late 2013. Employment and income growth remain somewhat weak, and forward looking architecture billings are anemic.