Continuing the positive momentum of a nearly three point bump in October, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached its first positive mark since August. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 52.0, following a score of 49.4 in October. This score reflects an overall increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 65.0, up dramatically from a reading of 57.3 the previous month.
“This is a heartening development for the design and construction industry that only a few years ago accounted for nearly ten percent of overall GDP but has fallen to slightly less than six percent,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Hopefully, this uptick in billings is a sign that a recovery phase is in the works. However, given the volatility that we’ve seen nationally and internationally recently, we’ll need to see several more months of positive readings before we’ll have much confidence that the U.S. construction recession is ending..”
November ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: South (54.4), Midwest (50.9), Northeast (49.1), West (45.6)
- Sector index breakdown: multifamily residential (55.8), commercial / industrial (53.9), institutional (48.9), mixed practice (41.6)
- Project inquiries index: 65.0
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), 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.
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world.