January saw a return to growth for the design industry, albeit modest. For the months of November and December, the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Architecture Billings Index dipped into negative territory—the first double-dip in billings in more than a year.
Between December 2013 to January 2014, the ABI score rose from 48.5 to 50.4, reflecting an increase in demand for architecture services. (Any score about 50 marks an increase in billings.) The increase at the New Year was larger than the stumble in billings from November to December to end 2013.
The index for new project inquiries fell slightly from 59.2 in December to 58.5. However, inquiries showed growth throughout 2013. January 2014 extends that trend.
The ABI continues to track with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs reports. January saw the economy adding jobs for the construction, manufacturing, architecture, and engineering industries after a dip in new jobs in December that capped off an otherwise positive 2013. The ABI has moved in the same ways.
Here's the rundown.
National billings: At 50.4, down from December's 48.5, the national billings score is back in the black after two months in the red. The index has shown growth in 15 of the last 18 months.
Project inquiries: At 58.5, down slightly from 59.2, this score has hovered near 60 for well over a year.
Northeast: At 43.6, up slightly from 42.8, the January score continues a four-month slump for the region.
Midwest: At 46.5, down from December's score of 47.0, January marks the third month of contraction in a row.
South: At 53.5, up from 51.2, this is the 19th straight month of growth for this region.
West: At 51.1, down from December's 53.2, this month interrupts 17th straight months of growth for the region.
Commercial/Industrial: At 50.9, up from 47.1, this sector follows the national average: a rebound in January after contraction in November and December.
Multi-family Residential: At 51.8, down from 53.8, this is nevertheless the 21st straight month for the sector above 50.
Institutional: At 46.5, down from 44.8, January marks a rebound from December figure to the November score.
Mixed Practice: At 48.4, down from December's 51.0, the January score ends 16 straight months of growth for the sector.