Architecture Billings Index Continues to Point to Difficult Conditions

March 24, 2009
No region or building sector is immune from this prolonged economic downturn

Following another historic low score in January, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was up 2 points in February. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported that the February ABI rating was 35.3, up from 33.3 in January, but still pointing to a general lack of demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry score was 49.5. 

“Despite a higher score than last month, we’re likely to see light demand for new construction projects through much of the year,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “There’s hope that the stimulus bill will result in more project activity, but that is also dependent on banks easing lending standards in the months ahead. Still, the improvement in the inquiries index does provide hope that some stalled projects will resurface in the near future.”

Key February ABI Highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (36.4), South (35.5), Midwest (35.0), Northeast (32.3).
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (40.1), institutional (36.8), multi-family residential (33.3), commercial/industrial (32.0).
  • Project inquiries index: 49.5.

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