After nine consecutive months of growth, January’s Architecture Billing Index (ABI) reported a “softening” in US design activity. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the January ABI score was 49.9, down from a mark of 52.7 in December. This score reflects a “very modest decrease” in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.7, down from the reading of 59.1 the previous month.
“This easing in demand for design services is a bit of a surprise given the overall strength of the market over the past nine months,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Likely some of this can be attributed to severe weather conditions in January. 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.
- Midwest (50.8)
- South (54.8)
- Northeast (46.0)
- West (49.3)
Sector Index Breakdown:
- Multi-family residential (51.4)
- Mixed Practice (46.9)
- Commercial/Industrial (50.9)
- Institutional (53.0)
Key August ABI Highlights:
- Project inquiries index (58.7)
- Design contracts index (51.3)
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. Any score above 50 reflects an increase in design services.