November 2016

North American Electronics Business Growth and Leading Indicators Mixed in September

Based on three-month rolling averages, printed circuit board (PCB) growth continued to downshift in September 2016, while the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry in North America maintained solid positive growth. Semiconductor shipments continued to recover, although year-on-year sales growth is still in negative territory, based on the three-month rolling average. The turnaround for semiconductor sales began in April 2016 after a steep decline that spanned 12 months.

Leading indicators sent mixed signals in September 2016. The U.S. Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which tends to lead industry sales by two to six months, returned to positive territory (above 50). The 3/12 rate of change for U.S. new orders for electronic products has been in negative territory for the past eight months, which is largely a reflection of strong growth last year.

Another leading indicator, IPC’s PCB book-to-bill ratio, is based on three-month rolling averages of orders and sales, and normally leads PCB sales by three to six months. The ratio rebounded in August 2016 and increased to 1.03 in September, driven mainly by growing orders. Ratios above parity (1.00) indicate greater demand than supply, which may be a precursor of positive sales growth for electronics manufacturers. This indicator suggests the likelihood of a slow autumn with a possible year-end recovery for the industry.

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Notes: As of the June 2016 release, 3/12 rates of change based on actual dollar amounts replaced the use of indices in the graph. Three-month rolling averages iron out some of the volatility in monthly data to show clearer trends. This information is provided by IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries®. Other industry data can be found at

Sources: IPC statistical programs for the EMS and PCB industries; SIA for semiconductor data; U.S. Census Bureau for U.S. new orders for computer and electronic products; and Institute for Supply Management for the U.S. Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Market Research Reports

World Market Size Estimates

  Billions of U.S. Dollars For Year Source
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) $58.6 2015 IPC, World PCB Production Report for the Year 2015
Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) $430.1 2015 New Venture Research
Electronic Equipment (Including Components) $1,724 2015 Reed Electronics Research

Note: Changes in currency exchange rates affect these dollar amounts from year to year.

Lead-Free Trends

Source: IPC Global Solder Statistical Program

Find more information and data from other industry associations


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