December saw an increase in demand for design services, according to the latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI) released by the AIA today. The December ABI score is 50.9, up from November's value of 49.3. Scores above 50 indicate growth in billings, whereas those below 50 reflect a contraction. The year ended with eight monthly reports reflecting growth and four reports of contracting billings figures in January, April, August, and November.

“As has been the case for the past several years, there continues to be a mix of business conditions that architecture firms are experiencing,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, said in the press release, adding that stock market volatility is leading to some uncertainty in the construction industry. “Client concerns about the performance of the stock market have begun to impact demand for design services and that is an area to keep an eye on as 2016 begins to unfold.”

Below are the national, regional, and sector breakdowns for the December ABI report.

National Highlights

National Billings:
 This nationwide measurement increased to 50.9 in December after falling into negative territory at 49.3 in the previous month. 
Project Inquiries: This index, which has remained in positive territory for nearly seven years, rose from 58.6 in November to 60.2 in December, 
Design Contracts: At 51.0, this index experienced a slowdown in December, falling from 53.5 in November.

Regional Highlights

Northeast: The region’s business conditions continue a six-month streak of contracting figures. December's value of 46.7 is slightly below November's score of 48.0.
Midwest: The Midwest received its second straight contracting figure and the lowest regional score in today's report. Its value is 46.1, down from 47.4 in November.
South: The South received a score of 53.3 this month, marginally below November's value of 54.0.
West: In November and December, this region flatlined at 53.7.

Sector Highlights

Multifamily Residential: At 52.9, the December figure marks the fourth straight month of growth for this sector.
Commercial/Industrial: This sector is experiencing a two-month slump. The index dropped from 49.6 in November to 47.3 in December, marking the second straight month of contraction.
Institutional: Demand in this sector increased slightly from 51.9 in November to 52.2 in December.
Mixed Practice: The mixed practice category received another contracting figure this month, with the index score falling from 48.9 in November to 46.5 in December.

Source: AIA Architecture Billings Index