After the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) posted positive gains in January, the question everyone was asking was, “What comes next?” Today, the AIA’s monthly report answered that question with a bit more good news. The ABI was measured at 50.7 in February, which is up slightly from a January score of 50.4. So, how did this happen? The change was due to strong numbers posted in the South (52.8) and the West (50.5). But dragging the group down, the Northeast and Midwest both scored below 50 with scores of 48.3 and 47.6, respectively (any score below 50 indicates a decline).
By sector, multi-family residential had the best month at 52.5, followed by commercial/industrial (51.9), institutional (49.6), and mixed practice (46.6). While the ABI saw a slight gain overall, the new projects inquiry index, dropped from 58.5 to 56.8. These postings, though, were likely negatively impacted by February’s severe weather.
“The unusually severe weather conditions in many parts of the country have obviously held back both design and construction activity,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement. “The March and April readings will likely be a better indication of the underlying health of the design and construction markets. We are hearing reports of projects that had been previously shelved for extended periods of time coming back online as the economy improves.”