The AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at a score of 50.3 in February, a 5-point decrease from the previous month's score of 55.3, but marking a 17th 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 represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.
“Overall business conditions at architecture firms across the country have remained generally healthy,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “Firms in the South recorded continued strong design activity, likely reflecting a healthy regional economy and ongoing rebuilding from the catastrophic 2018 hurricane season.”
In February, design contracts posted a score of 53.1—a 0.8-point decrease from January score of 53.9, but still a 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 February:. The billings score for the South grew 3.6 points to a score of 58.3, and demand for design services in the West increased by 0.1 points to a score of 51.6. Billings decreased in the Northeast by 0.9 points to a score of 51.5, and demand for design services in the Midwest dropped by 3.2 points to a score of 51.3.
In February, billings scores increased in two of the four individual industry sectors, all of which have shown growth since June. The commercial/industrial sector's score increased by 1.3 points to a score of 53.9, and the mixed practice sector's score grew by 3.4 points to a score of 57.2. The multifamily residential score decreased by 1 point to a score of 51.6, and the institutional sector posted a score of 50.9, a decrease from the January score of 52.9. (Results of sectors are also calculated as three-month moving averages.)