After six months of steadily increasing demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) paused in November. 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 November ABI score was 49.8, down from a mark of 51.6 in October. This score reflects a slight decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.8, down from the reading of 61.5 the previous month.
“Architecture firms continue to report widely varying views of business conditions across the country. This slight dip is likely just a minor, and hopefully temporary, lull in the progress of current design projects,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “But there is a continued uneasiness in the marketplace as businesses attempt to determine the future direction of demand for commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.”
Key November ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: South (52.0), Midwest (51.6), West (50.2), Northeast (47.5)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.2), mixed practice (53.1), commercial / industrial (48.6), institutional (47.7)
- Project inquiries index: 57.8
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.