After showing struggling business conditions for most of 2011, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has now been positive for two consecutive months. 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 (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 52.0, following the exact same mark in November. This score reflects an overall increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 64.0, down just a point from a reading of 65.0 the previous month.
Key December ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: South (54.2), Midwest (53.1), Northeast (52.6), West (45.1)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (54.3), commercial / industrial (54.1),institutional (51.3), mixed practice (44.5)
- Project inquiries index: 64.0
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.