AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index for December came in at a score of 52.5, which is a 0.6-point increase from November's score of 51.9. 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 ongoing slowdown in billings in the Northeast, balanced growth across sectors and regions looks more positive for the coming year,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “Factors outside of the construction sector, such as trade policy and international events, could still impact demand for design services, however recent fears about a downturn in construction activity have largely subsided.” In December, design contracts rose by 0.5 points to a score of 53.4.

The scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—rose in two of four regions in December with three of four regions reporting scores above the threshhold of 50. Billings in the Midwest rose 0.8 points to a score of 51.9 while billings in the West rose 2.7 points to a score of 54. Billings in the South fell 2.3 points to a score of 52.2, while billings in the Northeast fell 3.5 points to a score of 44.

Billings scores rose in two of four individual industry sectors, but all remained above the threshold of 50. The commercial/industrial sector and the institutional sector increased by 1.1 and 0.7 points, respectively, to scores of 54 and 50.8. The multifamily residential score fell by 0.5 points to a score of 51. The mixed practice sector fell by 1.4 points to 50.8. (Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.)