As temperatures dipped in November, so did the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). The ABI was 49.3, a 3.8 point drop from October’s 53.1. Any score below 50 represents a decrease in billings.
AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker seemed unfazed by the drop in billings. “Since architecture firms continue to report that they are bringing in new projects, this volatility in billings doesn’t seem to reflect any underlying weakness in the construction sector. Rather, it could reflect the uncertainty of moving ahead with projects given the continued tightness in construction financing and the growing labor shortage problem gripping the entire design and construction industries.”
New projects inquiries were at 58.6, a touch above last month’s reading of 58.5. The design contracts index rose to 53.5, an increase 1.8 points from October.
Regional averages were mostly down: the Midwest sank to 47.8 from 52.6 last month, the Northeast dropped three points to 46.2, and the South dropped 0.8 to 55.4. The West gained 0.1 points over last month, coming in at 54.5.
Billings by sector were a mixed bag. Multi-family residential and institutional billings climbed, while commercial/industrial and mixed practice fell. At 53.8, multi-family residential was up 1.3 points from October. Institutional billings gained 0.6 points in the same time frame. Commercial/industrial fell 4.1 points to 51, and mixed practice was at 47.6, an astonishing 7.3 point drop from the previous month.
A quick note on the data: national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly. Sector and regional categories are calculated as a three month moving average.