After six months of steadily increasing demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) paused in November.
As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to twelve-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 49.8, down from a mark of 51.6 in October. This score reflects a slight decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.8, down from the reading of 61.5 the previous month.
“Architecture firms continue to report widely varying views of business conditions across the country. This slight dip is likely just a minor, and hopefully temporary, lull in the progress of current design projects,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “But there is a continued uneasiness in the marketplace as businesses attempt to determine the future direction of demand for commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.”
- South: 52.0
- Midwest: 51.6
- West: 50.2
- Northeast: 47.5
- Multi-family residential: 55.2
- Mixed practice: 53.1
- Commercial/industrial: 48.6
- Institutional: 47.7
(Regional and sector categories are calculated as three-month moving averages, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.)
The Architecture Billings Index, produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine- to twelve-month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.