Amidst a continued high level of inquiries for possible new projects, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached its highest mark since August 2008, just before the serious credit problems emerged in our economy. As an 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 October ABI rating was 46.1, up sharply from 43.1 in September. This score, however, indicates a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry score was 58.5, following the 59.1 mark in September.
“This news could prove to be an early signal towards a recovery for the design and construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “On the other hand, because we continue to get reports of architecture firms struggling in a competitive marketplace with a continued decline in commercial property values, it is far too early to think we are out of the woods.” Key October ABI highlights:
Regional averages: South (46.1), Northeast (44.3), Midwest (43.0), West (42.8)
Sector index breakdown: institutional (48.7), multi-family residential (45.4), commercial / industrial (41.7), mixed practice (39.1),
Project inquiries index: 58.5