After five months of positive readings, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has fallen into negative terrain. 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 April ABI score was 48.4, following a mark of 50.4 in March. This score reflects a decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 54.4, down from mark of 56.6 the previous month.
“Considering the continued volatility in the overall economy, this decline in demand for design services isn’t terribly surprising,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Also, favorable conditions during the winter months may have accelerated design billings, producing a pause in projects that have moved ahead faster than expected.”
Key April ABI highlights:
• Regional averages: Northeast (51.0), Midwest (50.1), South (49.0), West (48.0)
• Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (53.8), multi-family residential (50.5), institutional (46.6), mixed practice (45.0)
• Project inquiries index: 54.4
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.
About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White Paper Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on the AIA web site.
About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.