In February, the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Architecture Billings Index (ABI) continued the growth seen in January. And just as in January, the growth was slight.
The ABI score rose from 50.4 in January to 50.7 in February. While that's only a marginal increase in design services, it represents two months of growth after the back-to-back decline in November and December of last year. (Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.)
The new projects inquiry index was 56.8, down from a score of 58.5 from January. The inquiries score has shown growth throughout 2013 and into 2014, though this growth has slowed slightly since December.
The ABI marks a break this month with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly job reports, which showed virtually no new jobs in residential or nonresidential construction for February. (Overall construction jobs were buoyed by heavy and civil-engineering construction.) While the February jobs numbers could be revised upward, February also coincides with some of the coldest temperatures across the country. It's not unreasonable to see a split between construction jobs and architecture billings during the depth of winter.
The rundown follows.
National billings: At 50.7, up from January's 50.4, the national billings score has now spent back-to-back months in the black. The index has shown growth in 16 of the last 19 months.
Project inquiries: At 56.8, down slightly from 58.5, this score has stayed above 50 for well over a year.
Northeast: At 48.3—way up from January's 43.6, but still negative—the February score marks month five in the region's slide.
Midwest: At 47.6, up from the 46.5 for January, February is the fourth month of contraction in a row.
South: The February score of 52.8 is a slight decrease from January's 53.5, but it's nevertheless the South's 20th straight month of growth.
West: At 50.5, down from January's 51.1, February is the 18th straight month of growth for the region—but that growth has been slowing, and may dip into negative territory next month.
Commercial/Industrial: At 51.9, up from 50.9 in January, this sector's score closely tracks the national average.
Multi-family Residential: At 52.5, up from 51.8, February's score marks the 22nd month of growth for the sector.
Institutional: At 49.6, up from 46.5, this sector is close to recovering from its five-month slump in growth, but not quite there yet.
Mixed Practice: At 46.6, down from January's 48.4, the February score is the third straight month of decline for this sector.