The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dropped two points in March, marking its lowest level since the survey’s inception in 1995. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI shows an approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., reported the March ABI rating dropped to 39.7, following its steep 9-point decline in February — any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. The inquiries for new projects score was 48.0, also the lowest mark in the history of the survey.

“We’ve seen an 11-point fall-off in the first quarter of the year, and the prognosis for commercial construction later this year is not favorable at this point,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Aside from historically low project demand, all regions are showing very poor business conditions. This is not likely to reverse itself anytime soon.”