Entering 2017, architecture billings slip modestly

Despite minor slowdown in overall billings, commercial/ industrial and institutional sectors post strongest gains in over 12 months.

February 23, 2017 |

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The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dipped slightly into negative territory in January, after a very strong showing in December. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the January ABI score was 49.5, down from a score of 55.6 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.0, up from a reading of 57.6 the previous month.

“This small decrease in activity, taking into consideration strong readings in project inquiries and new design contracts, isn’t exactly a cause for concern,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fundamentals of a sound nonresidential design and construction market persist.”  

* Every January the AIA research department updates the seasonal factors used to calculate the ABI, resulting in a revision of recent ABI values.

Key January ABI highlights:

•           Regional averages: South (54.2), Northeast (53.0), Midwest (52.4), West (48.8)

•           Sector index breakdown: institutional (54.6), commercial / industrial (53.4), mixed practice (48.1), multi-family residential (48.1)

•           Project inquiries index: 60.0

•           Design contracts index: 52.1

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

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