Portland Cement Association Announces Housing Starts Will Increase by 20 Percent in 2015

Residential housing starts will be on the increase in 2015, according to the Portland Cement Association (PCA). During the 2015 International Builders’ Show, PCA Chief Economist and Group Vice President Edward J. Sullivan announced that housing starts will increase 20 percent to 1.2 million units in 2015. This is up from roughly 950,000 units in 2014, and strong gains are also expected for 2016.

Multifamily units in particular should see a significant increase in starts compared to previous years with a 12 percent jump from 2014 levels. Nearly 400,000 multifamily starts are expected in 2015 in addition to 800,000 new units in the single-family market. The trend in multifamily construction is expected to persist throughout the forecast horizon as high student debt keeps millennials out of the new home market and baby boomers leave the market.

“The forecast is based on sustained strength in the labor markets with more than 3 million net new jobs created in both 2015 and 2016,” Sullivan says. “In addition, wage gains in the context of sub-6 percent unemployment are expected to reinforce labor market fundamentals.”

Sustained strength in job creation, coupled with a gradual shift in the mix of jobs toward higher skill and more significant wage pressures suggest added strength to consumer spending. Debt to household income now lies at an 18-year low. Consumer balance sheets have endured a healing period and with improvement in the labor markets will be more able to spend than they have been in quite some time.

ELFA Reveals Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) which represents the $903 billion equipment finance sector, has revealed its Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015. Given U.S. businesses, nonprofits and government agencies will spend nearly $1.5 trillion in capital goods or fixed business investment (including software) this year, financing a majority of those assets, these trends impact a significant portion of the U.S. economy. Businesses will find opportunities presented by a steadily improving economy and favorable credit conditions as they make their decisions for equipment replacement and expansion.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, says, “Equipment financing is a critical source of funding for a majority of U.S. businesses, allowing them to acquire the equipment they need to operate and grow. It enables equipment acquisition, which plays a critical role in driving the supply chains across all U.S. manufacturing and service sectors. To assist businesses in planning their acquisition strategies, we have distilled recent research data, including the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s 2015 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook Report, industry participants’ expertise and member input from ELFA meetings and conferences to provide our best insight for the Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015.”

ELFA forecasts the following Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015:

  • 1. Investment in equipment and software will reach an all-time high in 2015. As the U.S. economy continues to improve, business investment is forecast to reach a record $1.484 trillion in 2015. As business investment grows, demand for equipment financing will increase.
  • 2. Businesses will invest in equipment not just to replace aging assets, but also to aid in expansion. The pent-up replacement demand that has driven equipment investment in previous years may be supplemented by long-awaited expansion investment as capacity utilization rates in some industries reach or surpass levels historically known to spur business investment. Industries poised for investment growth include oil and gas extraction and transportation equipment manufacturing.
  • 3. While some equipment types will see strong growth, others will moderate. In 2014, equipment and software investment increased 9.6 percent in Q2 and 9.3 percent in Q3. Looking ahead, growth in equipment and software investment is expected to moderate somewhat, as it is unlikely to keep up the strong pace seen in Q2 and Q3. A still healthy growth rate of 6 percent is forecast for 2015. Aircraft, trucks and other industrial equipment are projected to be among the higher growth types, while agriculture, computers and software are expected to see slower growth.
  • 4. Improving market conditions will continue to increase credit supply and demand for equipment acquisitions. As the economy steadily improves and business confidence continues to increase, credit standards should modestly loosen. The propensity to finance decreased in the wake of the financial crisis as businesses deleveraged and refrained from new business investment. Since bottoming out in 2010, the rate at which businesses finance their capital spending has grown consistently and will continue to increase in 2015 with steady economic recovery and shifts in Federal Reserve policy.
  • 5. Eyes will be on short-term interest rate increases. Expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates in 2015 should spur equipment investment as businesses seek to lock in equipment financing at lower rates. Despite rate increases, businesses will find that a highly competitive “buyer’s market” will continue to make financing an attractive option for acquiring equipment.
  • 6. Businesses will use financing for a majority of their plant, equipment and software expenditures. In 2015, 62 percent or $922 billion of investment in plant, equipment and software in the United States is expected to be financed through loans, leases and lines of credit. A majority of businesses—seven out of 10—will use at least one form of financing to acquire equipment.
  • 7. Advances in the use of technology will drive innovative financing options. Equipment finance providers are streamlining their business processes and improving customer self-service capabilities using digital technologies. At the same time, some end-users are moving away from traditional equipment consumption models and toward hosted or managed services based on usage rather than total ownership. To meet customer demand and address evolving technology equipment requirements, equipment finance companies will tailor innovative financial offerings.
  • 8. Several “wild cards” could impact equipment acquisition decisions. In what could be a breakout year for the U.S. economy, positive and negative external risks could affect equipment investment. Potential political gridlock, global economic weakness and geopolitical risks could be a drag on investment decisions, but GDP growth from low oil prices, a potential surge in the housing sector and sufficient capacity utilization could have firms ramping up capital expenditures.
  • 9. Nontraditional financing will continue to grow and play a larger role in the equipment finance industry. As regulatory scrutiny increases and some banks’ lending standards tighten for certain credits, nontraditional financing sources, such as investment bankers, venture capitalists, insurance companies, crowd funders and others, are exploring opportunities in the equipment finance sector.
  • 10. A final lease accounting standard will be released. The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board continue to work on the lease accounting project, which will change how leases are accounted for on corporate balance sheets. A final standard is anticipated in 2015, with a possible effective date of 2018 or later. The good news is that the benefits of leasing equipment will remain intact despite the lease accounting proposal.

Equipment Investment Expected to Grow 6 Percent in 2015

Investment in equipment and software is expected to grow 6 percent in 2015, driven by a steadily improving economy, according to the Annual 2015 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook released recently by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. Overall in 2015, the outlook for 12 individual equipment and software verticals tracked in the report is mixed, with some sectors outperforming others. The Foundation’s report, which is focused on the $903 billion equipment leasing and finance industry, forecasts 2015 equipment investment and capital spending in the United States and evaluates the effects of various industry and external factors likely to affect growth over the next 12 months. The report will be updated quarterly throughout 2015.

William G. Sutton, CAE, President of the Foundation and President and CEO of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, said, “The Association’s Monthly Leasing and Finance Index reports new business volume is up, the Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index shows industry confidence is solidly positive, and this Outlook for 2015 projects continued steady growth in equipment and software investment. Equipment investment has been relatively modest in recent years, but picked up in 2014 and now seems poised to maintain this momentum into 2015. Overall, these trends portend a positive result for the equipment finance industry and U.S. economy.”

Highlights from the study include:

    • The U.S. economy is poised to have a breakout year in 2015, with growth expected to top 3%. Key “bright spots” that bode well for above-average growth include a rapidly improving labor market, increased access to credit, lower oil prices and fiscal healing. Meanwhile “wild cards” that could hinder growth include potential political gridlock, weakness in the global economy and geopolitical risks.
    • The steadily improving economy will likely drive solid equipment and software investment growth in 2015. Continued improvement in the economy should gradually loosen credit constraints and increase credit demand as businesses and households gain more confidence in the economy.
    • Equipment and software investment increased 9.3% in Q3 of 2014 after expanding 9.6% in Q2. Although these growth rates are unlikely to be sustained in the coming months, growth is still expected to be 5.9% in 2014 and remain relatively strong at 6.0% in 2015.
    • The Foundation-Keybridge U.S. Equipment & Software Investment Momentum Monitor, which is included in the report and tracks 12 equipment and software investment verticals, forecasts the following equipment investment activity:

  • o Agriculture machinery investment could see continued moderate declines over the next three to six months.
  • o Construction machinery investment should moderate over the next two quarters.
  • o Materials handling equipment investment growth may experience some moderation over the next three to six months.
  • o All other industrial equipment investment will likely remain strong over the next three to six months.
  • o Medical equipment investment growth is expected to be little changed over the next two quarters.
  • o Mining and oilfield machinery will likely slow or potentially experience negative growth in investment over the next three to six months, given recent declines in oil prices.
  • o Aircraft investment growth is expected to remain relatively stable over the next three to six months.
  • o Ships and boats investment will likely see little change in the next two quarters.
  • o Railroad equipment investment should moderate over the next three to six months.
  • o Trucks investment is expected to be little changed over the next three to six months.
  • o Computers investment will likely experience relatively stable investment over the next three to six months.
  • o Software investment will likely see a slight moderation in growth over the next three to six months.

The Foundation produces the Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook report in partnership with economics and public policy consulting firm Keybridge Research. The annual economic forecast provides a three-to-six month outlook for industry investment with data, including a summary of investment trends in key equipment markets, credit market conditions, the U.S. macroeconomic outlook and key economic indicators. The report will be updated quarterly throughout 2015.

Download the full report.

ELFA Reports Equipment Finance Sector Business Volume Up 13 Percent Since August 2013

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25), which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $827 billion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for August was $7.2 billion, up 13 percent from new business volume in August 2013. Month over month, new business volume was down 9 percent from July. Year to date, cumulative new business volume increased 6 percent compared to 2013.

Receivables over 30 days increased from the previous month to 1.3 percent, and were up from 1 percent in the same period in 2013. Charge-offs were unchanged for the fifth consecutive month at an all-time low of 0.2 percent.

Credit approvals totaled 79.5 percent in August, a slight decrease from 80.3 percent the previous month. Total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 1 percent year over year.

Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for September is 60.2, an increase from the previous month’s index of 58.9.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, said: “Continued strength in new business volume reflects the uptick in overall economic activity most economists forecast for the second half of 2014. Solid fundamentals—modest GDP growth; an improving labor market; increased consumer spending, as evidenced by strong auto sales; and low interest rates—all bode well for continued business investment in general, and the equipment finance sector, in particular. Credit quality appears manageable as well, although the index shows a slight uptick in delinquencies. Tempering this relatively good news is concern over recent geopolitical events relating to the fight against terrorism.”

Larry R. Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer, Med One Capital, said, “The YTD-2014 metric measured by the MLFI-25 demonstrates a solid year in the equipment finance industry. If the month-to-month trends continue for the remainder of 2014, our industry will experience the strongest new business performance since well before the beginning of the recession. The industry seems to have recovered much of the strength and momentum that was lost during the financial meltdown and resultant uncertainties experienced in 2009 and 2010. This trend is largely consistent with what we are experiencing in healthcare equipment financing. The high quality reflected in the portfolios of the reporting companies demonstrates that in the face of increasing volume, credit quality remains a high priority within our industry. If this continues, it will serve us well as pressure grows to increase new business volumes in the years ahead.”

The MLFI-25 is the only index that reflects capex, or the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. The MLFI-25 is released globally at 8 a.m. Eastern time from Washington, D.C., each month on the day before the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the durable goods report. The MLFI-25 is a financial indicator that complements the durable goods report and other economic indexes, including the Institute for Supply Management Index, which reports economic activity in the manufacturing sector. Together with the MLFI-25 these reports provide a complete view of the status of productive assets in the U.S. economy: equipment produced, acquired and financed.

The MLFI-25 is a time series that reflects two years of business activity for the 25 companies currently participating in the survey. The latest MLFI-25, including methodology and participants, is available now.

Investment in Equipment and Software Expected to Grow

Investment in equipment and software is expected to grow 2.6 percent in 2014, according to the Q3 update to the 2014 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook released by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. The Foundation revised its 2014 equipment and software investment forecast to 2.6 percent, down from 4.2 percent growth forecast in its Q2 Update to the 2014 Annual Outlook released in April. The Q3 report expects equipment and software investment to have modest sector growth during the rest of the year after a weak start. The Foundation report, which is focused on the $827 billion equipment leasing and finance industry, forecasts 2014 equipment investment and capital spending in the United States and evaluates the effects of various related and external factors in play currently and into the foreseeable future.

William G. Sutton, CAE, President of the Foundation and President and CEO of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, said, “The Foundation’s Outlook report reflects a slowing in GDP and equipment investment growth due to a weak first quarter this year that resulted in part from the extremely cold winter. The rebound in Q2 is slower than anticipated, as recent data from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s Monthly Leasing and Finance Index and the Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index reflect. We do, however, anticipate that equipment investment will rise in the second half of the year as economic conditions improve and business confidence continues to recover.”

Highlights from the study include:

· The U.S. economy is expected to grow 1.5 percent in 2014, revised from 2.8 percent.
· The downsides of the harsh winter, which included a 2.9 percent contraction in real GDP in the first quarter, should prove temporary, as the housing recovery, energy renaissance and accommodative credit markets support second-half growth.
· Equipment and software investment declined at an annualized rate of 1.8 percent in Q1 2014, following the 8.9 percent surge in Q4 2013.
· Credit supply continues to improve, and credit demand has held steady for all business sizes.
· Equipment and software investment is expected to steadily grow over the next 6 months across most verticals, according to the Foundation-Keybridge U.S. Equipment & Software Investment Momentum Monitor. The Momentum Monitor, which tracks 12 equipment and software investment verticals, forecasts the following equipment investment activity:
o Agriculture machinery investment will likely see slow growth, and potentially a contraction, through the rest of 2014, as both farm yields and commodity prices remain subdued.
o Construction machinery investment will continue to experience strong growth, and the year-over-year growth figures will begin to trend positive as multiple quarters of expansion take hold amidst the housing recovery.
o Materials handling equipment investment will experience stronger growth over the next 3 to 6 months.
o All other industrial equipment investment will likely see moderate growth over the next 3 to 6 months as the “re-shoring” of manufacturing continues to be a dominant economic story in 2014.
o Medical equipment investment will grow, but begin to level off near the end of the year.
o Mining and oilfield machinery will experience improving growth through the middle of the year but will begin to level off at the end of the year.
o Aircraft investment will likely experience about long-term average growth for the year.
o Ships and boats investment will likely rebound to an above-average pace through the end of this year.
o Railroad equipment investment will improve from its recent contraction toward modest growth.
o Investment in trucks will exhibit high-single digit growth over the next 3 to 6 months as economic activity improves and competitive diesel prices keep trucking transport competitive.
o Computers investment will remain muted in the short-term after strong replacement demand over the past few quarters.
o Software investment will be moderate in the next 3 to 6 months as companies continue to make investments in software and cloud technologies.

Dodge Momentum Index Slipped in February

The Dodge Momentum Index slipped 2.6 percent in February compared to the previous month, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. February’s decline brought the Momentum Index to 116.5 (2000=100), down from January’s revised 119.7 but still nearly 20 percent above the year-earlier (February 2012) reading of 97.4. The latest month’s retreat is expected to be a brief pause in a broader upward trend. Weak employment growth in December and January raised concern that the U.S. economic expansion was losing momentum, dampening the planning environment for commercial and institutional buildings. The moderate improvement in the February jobs report should help alleviate some of that concern going forward.

The February Momentum Index saw contraction in both its main components. New plans for commercial buildings, usually the more cyclically sensitive sector, dropped 1.7 percent while institutional building fell back by 3.7 percent. On the commercial side, declines were reported across all of the major building types. Even so, there were a number of new commercial projects that continued to make their way into the planning pipeline. February’s projects included the $160 million Three Alliance Office Building in Atlanta; a $130 million expansion to the Burns & McDonnell Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.; and an $80 million distribution center for ConAgra Foods in Frankfurt, Ind. The institutional component, meanwhile, was weighed down by a large downturn in education building plans. The education decline, however, was partially offset by an increase for new health-care projects, including the $50 million Presbyterian Rust Cancer Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., and the $50 million Jewish Home of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y.

Equipment Finance Market Achieves Highest Index in Two Years

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation has released the March 2014 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI). Designed to collect leadership data, the index reports a qualitative assessment of the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $827 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 65.1, the highest index in two years and an increase from the February index of 63.3. The first quarter MCI levels are the three highest since April 2011.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondent Daryn Lecy, vice president of Operations, Stearns Bank N.A. Equipment Finance Division, says: “Considering we are coming off what are typically slower months and the likelihood that our extra-aggressive winter further impacted new business, we remain optimistic for 2014. We are fortunate to be experiencing year-over-year growth, increasing demand, and overall solid delinquency levels.”

March 2014 Survey Results
The overall MCI-EFI is 65.1, an increase from the February index of 63.3.

    When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 31.4 percent of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 21.2 percent in February. Sixty-five point seven percent of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 72.7 percent in February. And 2.9 percent believe business conditions will worsen, down from 6.1 percent who believed so the previous month.

    Just more than 31 percent of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 24.2 percent in February. And 62.9 percent believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 69.7 percent the previous month. Another 5.7 percent believe demand will decline, down from 6.1 percent who believed so in February.

    Thirty-one point four percent of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, unchanged from February. And 68.6 percent of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, up from 65.5 percent in February. No one expects “less” access to capital, down from 3.1 percent who expected less access the previous month.

    When asked, 40 percent of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, relatively unchanged from February. The other 60 percent expect no change in headcount over the next four months, up from 53 percent last month. No one expects fewer employees, down from 6.3 percent who expected fewer employees in February.

    Five point seven percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” up from 3 percent last month. While 88.6 percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” down from 93.8 percent last month. And 5.7 percent rate it as “poor,” up from 3 percent last month.

    When asked, 31.4 percent of the of survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, a decrease from 34.4 percent who believed so in February. And 68.6 percent of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, an increase from 59.4 percent in February. No one believes economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, a decrease from 6.2 percent last month.

    In March, 45.7 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 56.3 percent in February. Another 54.3 percent believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 43.8 percent last month. No one believes there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from last month.

March 2014 MCI Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership

Bank, Small Ticket
“We continue to see strong growth in both applications and origination volume. We are optimistic that this trend will continue as we close out the first quarter. In addition, portfolio performance in terms of delinquencies remains very low.” David Schaefer, CEO, Mintaka Financial, LLC

Independent, Middle Ticket
“New business volume targets in our truck transportation business continue to be met or exceeded by our over 2,300 dealers nationwide in the U.S., suggesting continued strength in the economy.” William Besgen, President & COO, Hitachi Capital America Corp.

Bank, Middle Ticket
“The overall economy is fair; however, I do see an increase in capital expenditures in 2014. The capital expenditures will be made to reduce labor cost and/or replace outdated or worn out equipment.” Elaine Temple, President, Bancorpsouth Equipment Finance

Why an MCI-EFI?
Confidence in the U.S. economy and the capital markets is a critical driver to the equipment finance industry. Throughout history, when confidence increases, consumers and businesses are more apt to acquire more consumer goods, equipment and durables, and invest at prevailing prices. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to fall. Investors are said to be confident when the news about the future is good and stock prices are rising.

Who participates in the MCI-EFI?
The respondents are comprised of a wide cross section of industry executives, including large-ticket, middle-market and small-ticket banks, independents and captive equipment finance companies. The MCI-EFI uses the same pool of 50 organization leaders to respond monthly to ensure the survey’s integrity. Since the same organizations provide the data from month to month, the results constitute a consistent barometer of the industry’s confidence.

How is the MCI-EFI designed?
The survey consists of seven questions and an area for comments, asking the respondents’ opinions about the following:
1. Current business conditions
2. Expected product demand over the next four months
3. Access to capital over the next four months
4. Future employment conditions
5. Evaluation of the current U.S. economy
6. U.S. economic conditions over the next six months
7. Business development spending expectations
8. Open-ended question for comment

How may I access the MCI-EFI?
Survey results are posted on the Foundation website, included in the Foundation Forecast newsletter and included in press releases. Survey respondent demographics and additional information about the MCI are also available at the link above.

ELFA Monthly Leasing and Finance Index Provides a Survey of Economic Activity

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25), which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $827 billion equipment finance sector, showed its overall new business volume for January was $6 billion, up 2 percent from new business volume in January 2013. Volume was down 44 percent from December, following the typical end-of-quarter, end-of-year spike in new business activity.

Receivables over 30 days were at 1.8 percent in January, down slightly from 1.9 percent in December. Delinquencies were unchanged from the same period in 2013. Charge-offs were unchanged from the previous two months at the all-time low of 0.3 percent.

Credit approvals totaled 76.9 percent in January, a decrease from 78.3 percent the previous month. Fifty-four percent of participating organizations reported submitting more transactions for approval during January, a decrease from 57 percent December.

Finally, total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 0.7 percent year over year.

Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for February is 63.3, the second highest index in two years and off slightly from last month’s two-year index high of 64.9.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, said: “At the start of the new year, equipment finance activity picked up where it left off for most of 2013. New business volume shows modest, incremental growth while credit losses continue at historic lows. With fiscal pressures in Washington subsiding, at least for the time being, and most major U.S. economic indicators showing positive signs, we are hopeful that these factors will help promote a favorable climate for continued investment by U.S. businesses in capital equipment in 2014 and beyond.”

Martha Ahlers, VP/COO, United Leasing Inc., added: “The Monthly Confidence Index results for the last two reported periods provide continued optimism for the year ahead. Beginning 2014 with a 63.3 MCI, the 2nd highest mark in the last 24 months, is also extremely promising and serves as evidence of stability and positive velocity within our industry. In the Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, origination volumes year-over-year are also up, while maintaining historically low delinquency and charge-offs—an indication of continued health. The combination of these positive indicators creates a huge amount of excitement for potential growth.”

About ELFA’s MLFI-25
The MLFI-25 is the only index that reflects capex, or the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. The MLFI-25 is released globally at 8 a.m. Eastern time from Washington, D.C., each month on the day before the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the durable goods report. The MLFI-25 is a financial indicator that complements the durable goods report and other economic indexes, including the Institute for Supply Management Index, which reports economic activity in the manufacturing sector. Together with the MLFI-25 these reports provide a complete view of the status of productive assets in the U.S. economy: equipment produced, acquired and financed.

The MLFI-25 is a time series that reflects two years of business activity for the 25 companies currently participating in the survey. The latest MLFI-25, including methodology and participants is available below and also at http://www.elfaonline.org/Research/MLFI/

MLFI-25 Methodology
The ELFA produces the MLFI-25 survey to help member organizations achieve competitive advantage by providing them with leading-edge research and benchmarking information to support strategic business decision making.

The MLFI-25 is a barometer of the trends in U.S. capital equipment investment. Five components are included in the survey: new business volume (originations), aging of receivables, charge-offs, credit approval ratios, (approved vs. submitted) and headcount for the equipment finance business.

The MLFI-25 measures monthly commercial equipment lease and loan activity as reported by participating ELFA member equipment finance companies representing a cross section of the equipment finance sector, including small ticket, middle-market, large ticket, bank, captive and independent leasing and finance companies. Based on hard survey data, the responses mirror the economic activity of the broader equipment finance sector and current business conditions nationally.

ELFA MLFI-25 Participants

ADP Credit
BancorpSouth Equipment Finance
Bank of America
Bank of the West
BB&T Bank
BMO Harris Equipment Finance
Canon Financial Services
Caterpillar Financial Services
CIT
De Lage Landen Financial Services
Dell Financial Services
Direct Capital Corporation
EverBank Commercial Finance
Fifth Third Equipment Finance
First American Equipment Finance, a City National Bank Company
GreatAmerica Financial Services
Hitachi Credit America
HP Financial Services
Huntington Equipment Finance
John Deere Financial
Key Equipment Finance
LEAF Commercial Capital
M&T Bank
Marlin Leasing
Merchants Capital
PNC Equipment Finance
RBS Asset Finance
SG Equipment Finance
Siemens Financial Services
Stearns Bank
Suntrust
Susquehanna Commercial Finance
TCF Equipment Finance
US Bancorp Equipment Finance
Verizon Capital
Volvo Financial Services
Wells Fargo Equipment Finance

2013 Solar Employment Grew 10 Times Faster than the National Average Employment Growth Rate

The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, has released its fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census, which found the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013. That figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar jobs over the previous year, representing 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. Solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same period. Read the full report. State-by-state jobs numbers, including a more detailed analysis of the California, Arizona, and Minnesota solar markets, will be released in February.

“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” says Andrea Luecke, executive director and president of The Solar Foundation. “The industry has grown an astounding 53 percent in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs. Our census findings show that for the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly skilled workers. That growth is putting people back to work and helping local economies.”

Solar employers are also optimistic about 2014, expecting to add another 22,000 jobs over the coming year. By comparison, over the same time period, the fossil-fuel electric generation sector shrank by more than 8,500 jobs (a decline of 8.7 percent) and jobs in coal mining grew by just 0.25 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics current Employment Survey (not seasonally adjusted), September 2012 – November 2013.

“The solar industry is a proven job-creator,” says Bill Ritter, former governor of Colorado and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. “In Colorado and across the country, we have seen that when the right policies are in place to create long-term market certainty, this industry continues to add jobs to our economy.”

“SolarCity has added more than 2,000 jobs since the beginning of 2013; every single one in the United States. When you install a solar panel you create a local job that can’t be outsourced,” says Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity. “More than 90 percent of Americans believe we should be using more solar, and fewer than 1 percent have it today. We’ve barely begun this transformation, but as it advances, the American solar industry has the potential to be one of the greatest job creators this country has ever seen.”

Solar companies are also reporting that cost savings are driving their clients’ decision making, as 51.4 percent of customers report going solar to save money and another 22.9 percent because costs are now competitive with utility rates.

“Tens of thousands of new living-wage jobs have been created over the past year thanks to plunging solar technology costs, increasing consumer demand, and supportive government policies,” says Amit Ronen, director of The George Washington University Solar Institute. “As the nation’s fastest growing energy source, we expect the solar industry will continue to generate robust job growth for at least the next decade.”

The National Solar Jobs Census 2013 was conducted by TSF and BW Research Partnership with support from the GW Solar Institute. The report, derived from data collected from more than 2,081 solar firms, measured employment growth in the solar industry between September 2012 and November 2013. The margin of error of this data set is +/- 1.3 percent, significantly lower than any similar national industry study.

“The study shows both aggressive hiring and clear optimism among US solar companies,” says Philip Jordan, vice president at BW Research Partnership. “Of particular interest was the continued high wages among solar installers, who earned an average of between $20 and $23.63 per hour. We also found higher than average employment of veterans in the solar industry, a sign that their high-tech skills are valued in this sector.”

“SunPower is proud to be a global leader in solar power technology and energy services, creating thousands of American jobs and injecting billions into the U.S. economy,” says SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “We employ about 1,000 people at facilities in 10 states and are actively hiring hundreds more. Our network of approximately 400 dealers employs more than 6,000 across the U.S., and two of our major solar power plants last year created 1,300 jobs at peak construction. Solar is a competitive, reliable resource, and an economic success story for America.”