The National Lighting Bureau (NLB), Silver Spring, Md., said the performance of the first-quarter 2012 Lighting Systems Index (LSI) published by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., bested the fourth-quarter 2011 by 5.2%, a gain that NLB Executive Director John Bachner characterized as “cause for optimism, especially in light of encouraging year-over-year data.” Bachner noted that year-over-year performance, while strong at 3.7%, was less robust than quarter-over-quarter performance because of “intervening quarterly fluctuations. Nonetheless, year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter performance, taken as a whole, is extremely positive.”

Four of the five product categories considered by the LSI registered solid first-quarter 2012 gains compared to first-quarter 2011 performance; only emergency lighting posted a year-over-year shipment decline. NEMA International Economist Tana Farrington said, “While aggregate lighting-equipment demand has improved appreciably since the recovery began, it still remains well below the levels observed during the previous economic expansion. The still-tepid construction outlook implies lighting equipment output growth will lag in the near term. Housing is finally transitioning from trough to recovery, but forward progress will be slow.”

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 United States by the 450 companies that comprise NEMA. Adjusted for the season and inflation, the Index uses 2002 data for its 100-point benchmark.