Architecture Billings Climbs into Positive Territory for First Time in Four Months
December 21, 2011

Continuing the positive momentum of a nearly three point bump in October, the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reached its first positive mark since August, according to a December 21 news release. As an economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine-to-12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. AIA reported the November ABI score was 52.0, following a score of 49.4 in October. 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 65.0, up dramatically from a reading of 57.3 the previous month.

"This is a heartening development for the design and construction industry that only a few years ago accounted for nearly 10 percent of overall GDP but has fallen to slightly less than 6 percent," says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, in the release. "Hopefully, this uptick in billings is a sign that a recovery phase is in the works. However, given the volatility that we've seen nationally and internationally recently, we'll need to see several more months of positive readings before we'll have much confidence that the U.S. construction recession is ending."

The key November ABI highlights include:

  • Regional averages: South (54.4), Midwest (50.9), Northeast (49.1), West (45.6)
  • Sector index breakdown: multifamily residential (55.8), commercial / industrial (53.9), institutional (48.9), mixed practice (41.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 65.0

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers, according to the release.

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