The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting a steady upturn in design activity. 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 March ABI score was 51.9, down from a mark of 54.9 in February. 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 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.
“Business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But as we have continued to report, the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months.”
Key March ABI highlights:
• Regional averages: Northeast (54.6), Midwest (53.9), South (53.6), West (51.9)
• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (56.9), commercial / industrial (53.5), mixed practice (53.3), institutional (50.6)
• Project inquiries index: 60.1
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.