Architecture Billings Index reverts to negative territory

Decline is possibly a brief pause from unusually strong winter activity.

May 16, 2012

After five months of positive readings, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has fallen into negative terrain. 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 April ABI score was 48.4, following a mark of 50.4 in March. This score reflects a decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 54.4, down from mark of 56.6 the previous month.

“Considering the continued volatility in the overall economy, this decline in demand for design services isn’t terribly surprising,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Also, favorable conditions during the winter months may have accelerated design billings, producing a pause in projects that have moved ahead faster than expected.” 

Key April ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (51.0), Midwest (50.1), South (49.0),  West (48.0)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (53.8), multi-family residential (50.5), institutional (46.6), mixed practice (45.0)
  • Project inquiries index: 54.4

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers. +

         
 

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