Wednesday, December 21, 2016

AIA: Architecture Billings Index indicates "small gain" in November

by Bill McBride on 12/21/2016 12:01:00 PM

Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.

From the AIA: Architecture Billings Index ekes out another small gain

Coming off a modest increase after two consecutive months of contraction, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) recorded another small increase in demand for design services. 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 November ABI score was 50.6, essentially unchanged from the mark of 50.8 in the previous month. This score reflects a slight increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.5, up from a reading of 55.4 the previous month.

“Without many details of the policies proposed, it’s still too early to tell the likely impact of the programs of the new administration,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “However, architects will be among the first to see what new construction projects materialize and what current ones get delayed or cancelled, so the coming months should tell us a lot about the future direction of the construction market.”
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• Regional averages: South (51.3), Midwest (50.9), Northeast (50.8), West (48.6)

• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.7), mixed practice (51.3), commercial / industrial (50.4), institutional (49.5)
emphasis added
AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 50.6 in November, down from 50.8 in October. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects' services.

Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.

According to the AIA, there is an "approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending" on non-residential construction.  This index was positive in 9 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment through mid-2017.