by Bill McBride on 4/19/2017 09:55:00 AM
Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.
From the AIA: Architecture Billings Index continues to strengthen
The first quarter of the year ended on a positive note for the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 54.3, up from a score of 50.7 in the previous month. This score reflects a sizable increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.8, down from a reading of 61.5 the previous month, while the new design contracts index dipped from 54.7 to 52.3.
“The first quarter started out on uneasy footing, but fortunately ended on an upswing entering the traditionally busy spring season,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “All sectors showed growth except for the commercial/industrial market, which, for the first time in over a year displayed a decrease in design services.”
• Regional averages: Midwest (54.6), South (52.6), Northeast (52.4), West (50.2)
• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (54.6), mixed practice (53.7), institutional (52.9), commercial / industrial (49.8)
Click on graph for larger image.
This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 54.3 in January, up from 50.7 in February. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects’ services.
Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.
According to the AIA, there is an “approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending” on non-residential construction. This index was positive in 9 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2017 and early 2018.