The Architecture Billings Index dipped slightly into negative territory in January*, after a very strong showing in December. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9-12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the January ABI score was 49.5, down from a score of 55.6 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.0, up from a reading of 57.6 the previous month.
“This small decrease in activity, taking into consideration strong readings in project inquiries and new design contracts, isn’t exactly a cause for concern,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, Ph.D. “The fundamentals of a sound nonresidential design and construction market persist.”
Key January ABI highlights:
Regional averages: South (54.2), Northeast (53.0), Midwest (52.4), West (48.8)
Sector index breakdown: institutional (54.6), commercial / industrial (53.4), mixed practice (48.1), multi-family residential (48.1)
Project inquiries index: 60.0
Design contracts index: 52.1
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.
*Every January the AIA research department updates the seasonal factors used to calculate the ABI, resulting in a revision of recent ABI values.