The commercial sector continues to lead the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) which has remained in positive territory for the fifth consecutive month. 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 AIA reported the March ABI score was 50.4, following a mark of 51.0 in February. This score reflects a slight increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 56.6, down from mark of 63.4 the previous month.
“We are starting to hear more about improving conditions in the marketplace, with a greater sense of optimism that there will be greater demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But that is not across the board and there are still a number of architecture firms struggling so progress is likely to be measured in inches rather than miles for the next few months.”
Key March ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: Midwest (54.1), Northeast (53.9), South (50.1), West (46.6)
- Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (56.0), multi-family residential (51.9),institutional (47.7), mixed practice (47.2)
- Project inquiries index: 56.6
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers. BD+C