While the electrical industry has bounced back from the depths of the economic calamity last spring caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus, the market is off to a sluggish start in Q1 2021.
When compared to EM’s electrical sales potential estimates from a year ago and 4Q 2020, sales are a little light, with total national sales potential of $101.2 billion tracking at a -3.4% decline in Q1 2021 from 4Q 2020, and a -3.8% decline from Q1 2020, before the crisis hit the economy hardest in late March and early April.
The current quarter-to-quarter decline can be explained in large part by the impact of the typical seasonal decline in construction in the early months of any year because of cold weather. But the YOY decline from 1Q 2020 is a little surprising when you consider that some of the electrical contractor and industrial employment data EM uses to construct its sales-per-employee estimates and total electrical sales potential includes March 2020, when the U.S. economy was already starting to slow down because of the pandemic.
Some states are snapping back faster than others and are seeing a quicker growth pace over the past quarter than they had in the YOY data. For example, although Louisiana’s total sales potential in 1Q 2021 of $1,502.2 billion is down -13.2% YOY, its quarter-to-quarter pace was down -3.1%. New Mexico, with estimated total electrical sales of $566.6 million, is one of the few states with positive quarter-to-quarter growth, logging an increase of +1.1%.
As you will see in this spreadsheet, the states with double-digit quarterly declines in Q1 2021 were all cold-weather states — Wyoming, North Dakota, Vermont, Montana, Iowa and Minnesota.