The AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at a score of 54.7 in November, marking the 14th consecutive month of gains. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S., and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, regionally, and by project type. A score above 50, as seen in November, represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.
“Despite some concerns about a potential economic downturn, architecture firms continue to report strong billings, inquiries, and new design contracts,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “For the coming year, concerns about the economy among architecture firm leaders tend to be balanced by their concerns about a lack of qualified employee prospects.”
In November, design contracts posted a score of 54.6—a 1.8-point increase from October's score of 52.8, a sign that momentum is getting strong again .
The scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as a three-month moving averages—increased in three regions in November. The billings score for the Northeast grew 5 points to a score of 56.8. Demand for design services in the South increased by 2.1 points to a score of 50.5. Billings also increased in the West by 2.6 points, to a score of 49. Demand for design services decreased significantly by 4.7 points to a score of 53.1 in the Midwest.
Billings decreased in two of the four individual industry sectors in November, but all posted a score above 50, indicating growth. The multifamily residential score dropped by 1.1 point to a score of 51.2 and the institutional sector's score decreased by 1.2 points to a score of 50.8. The commercial/industrial sector grew 4.9 points to a score of 53.8. And the mixed practice sector posted a score of 53.8, a 1.1-point increase from October's score of 52.7. (Results of sectors are also calculated as three-month moving averages.)