The AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at a score of 55.3 in January, a 4.3-point increase from the previous month's revised score of 51, marking the 16th consecutive month of gains. 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, as seen in January, represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.
“The government shutdown affected architecture firms but doesn’t appear to have created a slowdown in the profession,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “While AIA did hear from a few firms that were experiencing significant cash flow issues due to the shutdown, the data suggests that the majority of firms had no long-term impact.”
In January, design contracts posted a score of 53.9—a 1.4-point increase from December's revised score of 52.5. Design contracts continue to come in above the 50-point threshold, sign that momentum is strong, despite slow growth and month-to-month fluctuations.
The scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—increased in two regions in January. The billings score for the South grew 0.7 points to a score of 54.7, and demand for design services in the West increased by 0.6 points to a score of 51.5. Billings decreased in the Northeast by 0.4 points, to a score of 52.4, and demand for design services in the Midwest dropped slightly by 0.1 points to a score of 54.4.
Billings scores increased in two of the four individual industry sectors in January, all of which have shown growth since June. The multifamily residential score increased by 0.8 point to a score of 52.6, and the mixed practice sector's score grew by 0.7 points to a score of 53.8. The commercial/industrial sector's score decreased by 0.4 points to a score of 52.6, and the Institutional sector posted a score of 52.9, a 0.4-point decrease from December's revised score of 53.3. (Results of sectors are also calculated as three-month moving averages.)
Note: Every January the AIA research department updates the seasonal factors used to calculate the ABI, resulting in a revision of recent ABI values.