Wednesday, February 22, 2017

AIA: Architecture Billings Index decreased in January

by Bill McBride on 2/22/2017 11:01:00 AM

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

From the AIA: Entering 2017, architecture billings slip modestly

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dipped slightly into negative territory in January, after a very strong showing in December. 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 January ABI score was 49.5, down from a score of 55.6 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.0, up from a reading of 57.6 the previous month.

“This small decrease in activity, taking into consideration strong readings in project inquiries and new design contracts, isn’t exactly a cause for concern,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fundamentals of a sound nonresidential design and construction market persist.”  
...
• Regional averages: South (54.2), Northeast (53.0), Midwest (52.4), West (48.8)

• Sector index breakdown: institutional (54.6), commercial / industrial (53.4), mixed practice (48.1), multi-family residential (48.1)
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 49.5 in January, down from 55.6 in December. 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.