Positive February Architecture Billings Index Encouraging for 2018 Outlook

Despite a 2.7 drop in architecture billings, the Architecture Billings Index has remained above 50 for five consecutive months

The ABI moderated to 52.0 in February from 54.7 in January. Any score above 50 is consistent with growth in billings, and the index has remained above this threshold for 11 of the past 12 months.
The ABI moderated to 52.0 in February from 54.7 in January. Any score above 50 is consistent with growth in billings, and the index has remained above this threshold for 11 of the past 12 months.
Wells Fargo Securities

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is reporting an increase in architecture firm billings for February from its Architecture Billings Index (ABI), with several key segments showing an encouraging outlook for 2018. The project inquiries index came in at 62.4, up from January's 61.1 reading. The design contracts index was at 54.5 in February, also up from its 53.9 reading last month.

“We remain optimistic about the trends we’re seeing at architecture firms this year with the ABI continuing to show growth in February,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “We saw several major bright spots reflected in February’s data, as billings remained particularly strong at firms located in the West and Midwest.”

While the pace of growth in design activity slowed a bit in February for an ABI score of 52.0 (any score over 50 indicates billings growth), it still reflects a healthy business environment. In particular, firms with a multifamily residential or an institutional specialization continued to report extremely strong billings.

Regional highlights

The Northeast is the only region showing a below 50 reading for the month of February. The Northeast came in at 47.5 for the month, but the reading was up from its 47.3 reading in January.

The West had the highest ABI reading for the second straight month at 57.6 for February, an increase from its 56.2 January score. The Midwest was at 54.5 this month, a slight dip from 54.8 last month. Finally, the South also took a slight dip from 55.3 in January to 54.4 in February.

The Northeast ABI rose on the month but stayed in contraction territory while all the other regional ABIs came in above 50.The Northeast ABI rose on the month but stayed in contraction territory while all the other regional ABIs came in above 50.Wells Fargo Securities

Sector highlights

Mixed practice was the only sector to have a below 50 reading on the February ABI. Mixed practice came in at 49.7 for the month, a drop from its 50.4 reading last month.

Multifamily residential had a 56.6 reading in February, a small increase from 56.0 in January. Institutional had a 53.8 ABI score in February, also up from its January score of 52.5. Finally, commercial/industrial dropped from its 53.3 January score down to 51.0 in February.

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

Mixed billings index moderated for the second consecutive month while multifamily residential increased.Mixed billings index moderated for the second consecutive month while multifamily residential increased.Wells Fargo Securities

Institutional billings rose in February while commercial/industrial billings moderated for the second consecutive month.Institutional billings rose in February while commercial/industrial billings moderated for the second consecutive month.Wells Fargo SecuritiesMixed billings index moderated for the second consecutive month while multifamily residential increased.Mixed billings index moderated for the second consecutive month while multifamily residential increased.Wells Fargo Securities

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