Following a period of extended growth, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI), which is compiled by the AIA, declined for the second straight month, down to 48.5 in December from 49.8 in November (any score below 50 indicates a decline). The news is not entirely bleak, however, as new project inquiries rose to 59.2 up from 57.8.
The regional breakdown reflects a reversal of fortunes during the recovery. The Northeast, long the leading region for the ABI, is now trailing the other three regions, with a paltry score of only 42.8. The long suffering West now leads at 53.2, followed by the South at 51.2. The Midwest is also mired in negative territory at 47.0.
By sector, multi-family residential leads at 53.8, mixed practice follows at 51.0, commercial/industrial at 47.1, and institutional work trails at 44.8. AIA chief economist made a cautionary statement: “What we thought last month was an isolated dip now bears closer examination to see what is causing the slowdown in demand for architectural services.” Stay tuned.