The electrical industry may be settling into a period of steady growth, although not quite at the rate some electrical manufacturers experienced earlier in the year.

According to the June 2004 NEMA Electroindustry Business Confidence Index (EBCI) published by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., respondents reported decent but not spectacular improvement in the current business conditions affecting the electrical industry.

The EBCI, a monthly survey of NEMA members, said respondents believe conditions are better than they were last year but may have cooled a bit from the pace established in the most recent few months. End-market performance received mixed reviews, with telecom growing, but industrial, commercial and utility markets not adding to the electrical industry's recovery.

In the EBCI June report, all four current conditions indexes remained in the range above 50 (the threshold indicating conditions are favorable for growth), suggesting growth in the electrical industry. Compared to May's results, two regional indexes, Latin America and Europe, expanded while North America and Asia/Pacific contracted.

A somewhat different picture emerged in the results of the future conditions indexes as all the regional indexes contracted this month. However, comments from survey respondents were generally positive.

“We're seeing improved business conditions pretty much across the board, although industrial continues to be the nonparticipant in the recovery,” said one respondent.

“The economy is now moving into the self-sustaining phase of the recovery with significant creation of jobs in the first five months of the year,” said one manufacturer. “Interest rates will be rising soon, although bond-traders have already priced in increases in long-term rates. We look for housing to slow over the course of the rest of 2004. Nonresidential construction should start to improve in the second half of 2004.”