On the heels of its highest mark since 2007, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) jumped more than two points in December. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score was 54.2, up from a reading of 52.0 the previous month. 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 slightly from a mark of 61.4 in November.
“This is more promising news that the design and construction industry is continuing to move toward a recovery,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. However, historically December is the most unpredictable month from a business standpoint, and therefore the most difficult month from which to interpret a trend. The coming quarter will give us a much better sense of the strength of the apparent upturn in design activity. ”
Key December ABI highlights:
Regional averages: Northeast (55.3), South (54.8), Midwest (52.9), West (48.4)
Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (60.1), commercial/industrial (52.7), institutional (50.6), mixed practice (47.8)
Project inquiries index: 62.6