Architecture Billings Index Dips Into Negative Territory in January

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dipped slightly into negative territory in January after a very strong showing in December.

As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the January ABI score was 49.5, down from a score of 55.6 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.0, up from a reading of 57.6 the previous month.

“This small decrease in activity, taking into consideration strong readings in project inquiries and new design contracts, isn’t exactly a cause for concern,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fundamentals of a sound nonresidential design and construction market persist.”

Key January ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: South (54.2), Northeast (53.0), Midwest (52.4), West (48.8)
• Sector index breakdown: institutional (54.6), commercial / industrial (53.4), mixed practice (48.1), multi-family residential (48.1)
• Project inquiries index: 60.0
• Design contracts index: 52.1

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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