Rosslyn, Va.-based National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) recently released its third-quarter Lighting Systems Index, which indicates that lighting equipment shipments contracted 4.3% from second-quarter 2008's level, reaching a 10-year low, according to the National Lighting Bureau (NLB), Silver Spring, Md. Third-quarter 2008 performance receded to the 92.5-point level. The prior low point was reached during the fourth quarter of 2006, which reached a 93.5-point level, followed by the first quarter of 1999 at 94.5 points.

According to NLB, the impact of the housing-market slowdown has for several quarters been offset by continued construction in the nonresidential market. However, as NEMA Economic Analysis Director Brian Lego reported, that source of support "is beginning to wane as inflation-adjusted outlays on commercial and industrial construction projects declined during the third quarter of 2008, marking the first such drop since 2005."

Established in 1998, the NEMA Lighting Systems Index is a composite measure of lamps, luminaires, ballasts, emergency lighting, and exit signs shipped nationally and internationally from the United States by the 450 companies that comprise NEMA. The Lighting Systems Index can be viewed on the NLB Web site.