U.S. ABI Declines Sharply in March

March ABI. Image Courtesy of CalculatedRiskBlog.com

It seems the U.S. Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has yet to recover from 2013’s end of the year decline. Though 2014 started with a “modest uptick,” the March ABI has reveals a share decrease in design services. As reported by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the March ABI score was 48.8, down from a mark of 50.7 in February. Despite this, the new projects inquiry index was 57.9, up from the reading of 56.8 the previous month.

“This protracted softening in demand for design services is a bit of a surprise given the overall strength of the market the last year and a half,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Hopefully, some of this can be attributed to severe weather conditions over this past winter. We will have a better sense if there is a reason for more serious concern over the next couple of months.”

A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break…

February ABI Reveals Slight Improvement

February ABI. Image Courtesy of CalculatedRiskBlog.com

After starting the year with a “modest uptick” that disrupted a three month cycle of decline, the Architecture (ABI) for Feburary has revealed that design services in the are continuing to (slowly) improve. As reported by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), last month’s ABI score was 50.7, up slightly from a mark of 50.4 in January. In contrast, the new projects inquiry index continued to fall, dwindling from 58.5 to 56.8 in February. This however, as AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker believes, could be due to harsh weather conditions that stalled construction activity throughout many parts of the country over the past few months .

More information and regional highlights, after the break… 

January ABI Reports “Modest Uptick”

January via CalculatedRiskBlog.com

Business in the United States has started the New Year on a more positive note, as January’s Architecture (ABI) revealed the first increase in design services after three consecutive months of decline. As reported by the American Institute for Architects (AIA), the January numbers rose from December’s score of 48.5 to 50.4, indicating an increase in billings. However, the new projects inquiry index was 58.5, down a bit from the reading of 59.2 the previous month.

“There is enough optimism in the marketplace that business conditions should return to steady growth as the year progresses,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD.

December ABI Dips Again

December 2013 ABI. Image © CalculatedRiskBlog.com

Following consistently increasing demand for design services throughout most of 2013, the (ABI) has posted its first consecutive months of contraction since May and June of 2012. The American Institute of Architects () reported the December ABI score was 48.5, down from a mark of 49.8 in November.  This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).  The new projects inquiry index was 59.2, up from the reading of 57.8 the previous month.

More highlights from the December ABI, after the break…

November ABI Reflects Slight Contraction in Construction

Courtesy of www.calculatedriskblog.com

Despite six months of steady increase, the Architecture () for November revealed a slight decrease in demand for design services. The November score was 49.8, down from 51.6 in October (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.8, down from 61.5 the previous month.

“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.”

More highlights from the November ABI, after the break…

October ABI Reveals Decrease in Demand for Design Services

2013 October ABI. Image © Calculated Risk

After three consecutive months of growth, the American Institute of Architect’s () (ABI) has reveal a slight decrease in the demand for design services. Keeping in mind that any score above 50 indicates an increase in billing, the ABI score fell from 54.3 in September to 51.6 this past October. In contrast, the new projects inquiry index was 61.5, up from the reading of 58.6 the previous month.

September’s ABI Surges Higher

September 2013 ABI; Graph via Calculated Risk

Demand for design services in the U.S. continues to increase, as the Architecture (ABI) has reached its second highest level this year. According to the American Institute of Architects (), September’s ABI score was 54.3, up from 53.8 in August. In contrast, the new projects inquiry index fell a few points from 63.0 in August to 58.6 in September. 

ABI Reports Strong Conditions in US Market

August ABI, 2013 via Calculated Risk

The Architecture (ABI) has revealed more acceleration in the growth of design activity nationally. 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 () reported the August ABI score was 53.8, up from a mark of 52.7 in July. 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 63.0, down from the reading of 66.4 the previous month.

“It is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “…but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”

Key August ABI highlights:

July’s ABI Jumps Full Point, Indicates National Growth

July via Calculated Risk

The July Architecture (ABI) has jumped to 52.7, up more than one full point from June’s 51.6, indicating “acceleration in the growth of design activity nationally.” As any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings, July’s score reflects an increase in demand for design services; this increase was seen most dramatically in the area of new projects, which jumped from 62.6 in June to 66.7 in July.

Despite the optimistic results, AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, noted the uneven nature of the growth, and warned that “it is premature to declare the entire sector has entered an expansion phase.”

More statistics from July’s ABI, after the break…

June’s ABI Reflects Consistent Industry Growth

June ABI via Calculated Risk

The Architecture (ABI) remained positive again in June after the first decline in ten months in April. 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 American Institute of Architects () reported the June ABI score was 51.6, down from a mark of 52.9 in May. 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 62.6, up sharply from the reading of 59.1 the previous month.

Key ABI highlights and details on the construction industries remaining threats after the break…

ABI Bounces Back in May

Courtesy of CalculatedRiskBlog.com

Following the first negative downturn in ten months (what AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Phd, is hoping was just a “blip“), May’s Architecture Billing Index () has bounced back from a score of 48.6 to 52.9. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings (aka an expansion in demand for architects’ services).

Baker notes that “there is [still] a resounding sense of uncertainty in the marketplace from clients to investors and an overall lack of confidence in the general – that is continuing to act as a governor on the business development engine for architecture firms.” However, the scores, which revealed the most growth in the Northeast as well as in the multi-family residential and institutional sectors, are good signs for the design and construction industries.

More results of this month’s ABI, after the break…

Positive Signs of Growth Reflected in Steady ABI and Higher Intern Employment Rates

Courtesy of Calculated Risk

For the eight consecutive month, the (ABI) is reflecting a steady upturn in design activity. 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. Although the American Institute of Architects () reported the March ABI score was 51.9, down from a mark of 54.9 in February, this score still reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.

“Business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “But as we have continued to report, the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months.”

Key ABI highlights and details indicating higher employment rates for intern architects after the break…

ABI Continues to Steadily Climb for Seventh Straight Month

via Calculated Risk

An increasing demand for design services in the United States continues to strengthen the Architecture (ABI). 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 American Institute of Architects () has reported the February ABI score as 54.9, up slightly from a mark of 54.2 in January. This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 64.8, higher than the reading of 63.2 the previous month and its highest mark since January 2007.

“Conditions have been strengthening in all regions and construction sectors for the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “Still, we also continue to hear a mix of business conditions in the marketplace as this hesitant recovery continues to unfold.”

Key February ABI highlights:

ABI Reports Six Consecutive Month of Growth and Best Conditions Since 2007

ABI January 2013 via Calculated Risk

Reflecting the strongest growth since November 2007, the January (ABI) surged to a score of 54.2 – a sharp and welcomed increase from December’s 51.2* mark. Released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity that reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. By remaining above 50, January’s score illustrates the six consecutive month of growth for the United State’s design and construction industry. This trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, as the new projects inquiry index accelerated beyond last month’s reading of 57.9 and reached a score of 63.2.

“We have been pointing in this direction for the last several months, but this is the strongest indication that there will be an upturn in construction activity in the coming months,” said Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. .  “But as we continue to hear about overall improving economic conditions and that there are more inquiries for new design projects in the marketplace, a continued reservation by lending institutions to supply financing for construction projects is preventing a more widespread recovery in the industry.”

Review the ABI Highlights in greater detail, after the break…

ABI Reports Five Consecutive Months of Growth

December 2012 via Calculated Risk

Concluding 2012 with strong business conditions, the December (ABI) marks five consecutive months of growth with a score of 52.0. Released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity that reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. By remaining above 50, December’s score reflects an increase in demand for design services. However, growth is slightly slower than the previous month, whose mark at 53.2 brought the strongest business conditions since 2007. Additionally, the new projects inquiry index remains in positive territory with a score of 59.4, also down slightly from the 59.6 mark of November.

A five-month run of growth is a trend that has repeated itself since 2010. However, analysts are optimistic. Growth in 2012 began earlier in the year, picking up speed in early August rather than late Fall.

“While it’s not an across the board recovery, we are hearing a much more positive outlook in terms of demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Moving into 2013 we are expecting this trend to continue and conditions improve at a slow and steady rate.  That said, we remain concerned that continued uncertainty over the outcomes of budget sequestration and the debt ceiling could impact further economic growth.”

View the ABI highlights in greater detail, after the break…

ABI Reports Strongest Business Conditions Since 2007

November 2012 via Calculated Risk

The numbers are in and the American Institute of Architects’ November (ABI) has revealed positive business conditions for all building sectors for the fourth 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. Understanding this, the AIA is pleased to report that November has reached a five-year high with a score of 53.2, slightly up from 52.8 in October. Since August, the national billings index has continued to increased above 50.0 – the break-even point between contraction and growth – reflecting a steady rise in demand for design services. The West seems to be the only region in contraction, coming in at a score of 49.6.

Additionally, November also sees the Project Inquiry Index at 59.6, marking the 47th straight month in which inquiries into architectural services has been increasing.

“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, PhD, 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.”

View the ABI highlights in greater detail, after the break…

ABI Remains Positive for Third Straight Month

via Calculated Risk

Billings at architecture firms accelerated to their strongest pace of growth since December 2010. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects () reported the October score was 52.8, up from the mark of 51.6 in September. 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 59.4, compared to a mark of 57.3 the previous month.

“With three straight monthly gains – and the past two being quite strong – it’s beginning to look like demand for design services has turned the corner,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “With 2012 winding down on an upnote, and with the national elections finally behind us, there is a general sense of optimism. However, this is balanced by a tremendous amount of anxiety and uncertainty in the marketplace, which likely means that we’ll have a few more bumps before we enter a full-blown expansion.”

Update: ABI September

via Calculated Risk

We are happy to share on the beginning of this working week that the Architecture Billings Index has moved into positive territory for the first time in five months! The drastic three-point leap has launched the ABI to 50.2, up from last month’s 48.4, and the new project inquiry index moved to 57.2, up from mark of 56.3.  As we have reported previously, the ABI is our profession’s economic indicator and any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.  Regionally, the South leads with 52.2, followed by the West with 51.2, Northeast at 45.5, and Midwest at 45.3.  In terms of architectural sectors, multi-family residential and institutional place above 50 while institutional, commercial/industrial, and mixed practice all remain above 46.  “Until the economy is on firmer ground, there aren’t likely to be strong increases in demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “In the meantime, we can expect to see design activity alternate between modest growth and modest decline.”

We hope this positive score will let your Monday be a little bit merrier.