Billings at architecture firms across the country continue to increase. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the November ABI score was 53.2, up from the mark of 52.8 in October. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.6, up slightly from the 59.4 mark of the previous month.

“These are the strongest business conditions we have seen since the end of 2007 before the construction market collapse,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. “The real question now is if the federal budget situation gets cleared up which will likely lead to the green lighting of numerous projects currently on hold. If we do end up going off the fiscal cliff then we can expect a significant setback for the entire design and construction industry.”

Key November ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (56.3), Midwest (54.4), South (51.1), West (49.6)
  • Sector index breakdown: multifamily residential (55.9), mixed practice (53.9), commercial/industrial (52.0), institutional (50.5)
  • Project inquiries index: 59.6

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