Renewed commercial design activity and continued strong demand for multi-family residential projects fuel growth

Washington, D.C. – March 19, 2014 – After starting out the year on a positive note, there was another minor increase in the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) last month.  As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.  The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the February ABI score was 50.7, up slightly from a mark of 50.4 in January.  This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).  The new projects inquiry index was 56.8, down from the reading of 58.5 the previous month.

“The unusually severe weather conditions in many parts of the country have obviously held back both design and construction activity,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The March and April readings will likely be a better indication of the underlying health of the design and construction markets. We are hearing reports of projects that had been previously shelved for extended periods of time coming back online as the economy improves.”

Key February ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (52.8),West (50.5), Northeast (48.3), Midwest (47.6)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.5), commercial / industrial (51.9), institutional (49.6), mixed practice (46.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 56.8

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national 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

Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being.  Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.


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