WASHINGTON – Following a drop of nearly three points last fall, the Architecture Billings Index nudged up more than two points from January to February, according to figures released today.
As a leading economic indicator of construction activity created by the American Institute of Architects, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.
The February ABI rating was 44.8, up from a reading of 42.5 in January. Despite the slight uptick, the score indicates a continued decline in demand for design services.
“We continue to hear that funding dedicated for construction projects in the stimulus package has not yet been awarded, resulting in a bottleneck of potential projects that could help jumpstart the economy,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “That, coupled with a persistently rigid credit market for private sector projects, is a key reason why the design and construction industry continue to suffer at near historic levels in terms of job losses.”
In February, ABI averages reached 49.4 in the Midwest, 44.1 in the Northeast, 43.6 in the West, and 40.7 in the South. Multi-family residential homes averaged 47.3 on the ABI in February, while institutional buildings were around 44.2, mixed-practice buildings 43.3, and commercial/industrial complexes 43.2.
The ABI is derived from a monthly survey of work on the boards at architectural firms produced by the AIA Economics Market Research Group. It compares data compiled since the survey’s inception in 1995 with figures from the Department of Commerce on Construction Put in Place.
The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly survey sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended. According to the proportion of respondents choosing each option, a score is generated, which represents an index value for each month. The regional and sector data is formulated using a three-month moving average.