Wednesday, January 18, 2017

AIA: Architecture Billings Index increased in December

by Bill McBride on 1/18/2017 11:15:00 AM

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

From the AIA: Architecture Billings Index ends year on positive note

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) concluded the year in positive terrain, with the December reading capping off three straight months of growth in design billings. 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 December ABI score was 55.9, up sharply from 50.6 in the previous month. This score reflects the largest increase in design services in 2016 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.2, down from a reading of 59.5 the previous month.

“The sharp upturn in design activity as we wind down the year is certainly encouraging. This bodes well for the design and construction sector as we enter the new year”,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “However, December is an atypical month for interpreting trends, so the coming months will tell us a lot more about conditions that the industry is likely to see in 2017.”  
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• Regional averages: Midwest (54.4), Northeast (54.0), South (53.8), West (48.8)

• Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (54.3), institutional (53.3), mixed practice (51.9), multi-family residential (50.6)
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 55.9 in December, up from 50.6 in November. 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 in 2017.