AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index for January came in at a score of 52.2, which is a 0.1-point increase from December's revised score of 52.1. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S. and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, regionally, and by project type. A score above 50 represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.

“Despite the continued presence of volatility in the economy, design activity has begun to accelerate in recent months,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “Even with the ongoing challenges facing the nonresidential construction sector, this upturn points to at least modest growth over the coming year.” In January, design contracts rose by 2.6 points to a score of 56.

The scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—rose in two of four regions in January with three of four regions reporting scores above the threshold of 50. Billings in the Midwest fell 0.6 points to a score of 51.3 while billings in the West fell 1.9 points to a score of 52.1. Billings in the South rose 4.5 points to a score of 56.7, while billings in the Northeast rose 1.3 points to a score of 45.3.

Billings scores rose in three of four individual industry sectors, with all sectors remaining above the threshold of 50. The commercial/industrial sector fell by 2.5 points to a score of 51.5. The institutional sector increased by 0.3 points to a score of 51.1. The multifamily residential score rose by 0.2 points to a score of 51.2. The mixed practice sector increased by 0.8 points to 51.6. (Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.)