Business in the United States has started the New Year on a more positive note, as January’s Architecture Billings Index (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.
“The suspension of the debt ceiling should ease some anxiety around projects for the federal government, at least for the time being. However, private sector spending should lead the construction upturn this year, which will depend more on employment growth and continued improvement in the overall economy.”
Key January ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: South (53.5),West (51.1), Midwest (46.5), Northeast (43.6)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.8), commercial / industrial (50.9), mixed practice (48.4), institutional (46.5)
- Project inquiries index: 58.5
*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. Regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers. Every January the AIA research department updates the seasonal factors used to calculate the ABI, resulting in a revision of recent ABI values.