The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is honing in on ending the year on a high note, albeit while whimpering over the line. November saw a positive score reported for the month—the second in succession after a previous two-month slump. The score indicated a subtle increase in design services. The new projects inquiry index was 59.5, up from a reading of 55.4 the previous month. The overall score for November was 50.6, marginally less than October’s 50.8
The ABI, the leading economic indicator of construction activity, reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market.
“Without many details of the policies proposed, it’s still too early to tell the likely impact of the programs of the new administration,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “However, architects will be among the first to see what new construction projects materialize and what current ones get delayed or canceled, so the coming months should tell us a lot about the future direction of the construction market.”
Key November ABI highlights:
Regional averages: South (51.3), Midwest (50.9), Northeast (50.8), West (48.6)
Sector index breakdown: Multi-family residential (51.7); Mixed practice (51.3); Commercial / Industrial (50.4); Institutional (49.5)
Project inquiries index: 59.5
Design contracts index: 50.2