Carpe Diem

Architecture billings index positive for third straight month, new projects inquiry index increased for fifth straight month

From the American Institute of Architects:

Billings at architecture firms accelerated to their strongest pace of growth since December 2010 (see red line above). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the October ABI score was 52.8, up from the mark of 51.6 in September. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.4, compared to a mark of 57.3 the previous month (see blue line).

“With three straight monthly gains – and the past two being quite strong – it’s beginning to look like demand for design services has turned the corner,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “With 2012 winding down on an upnote, and with the national elections finally behind us, there is a general sense of optimism. However, this is balanced by a tremendous amount of anxiety and uncertainty in the marketplace, which likely means that we’ll have a few more bumps before we enter a full-blown expansion.”

MP: More evidence that the housing market and real estate construction are recovering and gaining traction.  The 52.8 reading for the ABI in October was the highest since a slightly higher index of 52.9 in December 2010. The ABI in those two months were the highest levels of billing activity since before the recession, going back to a 55.1 ABI in December 2007.  The new projects inquiry index increased in October for the fifth straight month, and at 59.4 and rising, the activity level for new projects inquiries is approaching pre-recession levels.  As a leading indicator of future construction activity, the multi-month increases in architecture billings and inquiries about new projects predict that we can expect to see ongoing gains in construction spending and hiring into next year.

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