For the first time in the three-year history of the Electroindustry Business Confidence Index (EBCI), which is based on a monthly survey of senior managers at member companies of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C., panel members submitted not a single “worse” response. In all four geographic regions, and for both current and future conditions, the responses were entirely nonnegative.

Needless to say, optimism regarding the business conditions affecting the electroindustry is quite widespread. One respondent pointed out that the recovery is uneven within the North American region, but described conditions in the United States as booming.

Wrote one electrical-manufacturing manager who responded to the monthly survey for April, “March was the strongest month of the first quarter. April is off to a very good start as well. Orders are up, quotations are up, maybe it's a real recovery after all.”

The current conditions regional indexes all expanded when compared to March. The North America index moved from 76 in March to a record 84 points in April. Europe's index widened nearly 10 points to reach 70 points in April. The Latin America and Asia/Pacific indexes also expanded, but only by a couple of points in each case.

The only narrowing from March levels occurred from among the future conditions indexes, as the Asia/Pacific measure retreated modestly from 76 in March to 69 points in April — still well beyond the growth threshold of 50 points. An index reading above 50 indicates expansion; below 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally contracting.

Otherwise, the future conditions indexes improved slightly in North America, edging out one point to 85; moderately in Europe, widening by five points to 80; and robustly in Latin America, expanding from 71 in March to 85 in April.

Most respondents are optimistic about the business environment in six months but have retained a bit of “wait and see” attitude.