Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Architecture Billings Index Hits Another Record Low

by Bill McBride on 2/18/2009 10:21:00 AM

The American Institute of Architects reports: Another Historic Low for Architecture Billings Index

AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image in new window.

On the heels of a modest uptick in December, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dropped to a historic low level in January. 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 January ABI rating was 33.3, down from the 34.1 mark in December (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The inquiries for new projects score was 43.5.
Note that historically there is an "approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending". The ABI fell off a cliff in early 2008 and we are just starting to see that decline show up in non-residential construction spending.

The ABI fell off a 2nd cliff in late 2008, and that will show up later in 2009.

This is just more evidence that non-residential investment in structures will decline sharply this year.