The American Institute of Architects reported yesterday that the February 2017 Architecture Billings Index bounced back from a drop in the previous month. Reported growth was modest at a 50.7* (any score over 50 indicated billings growth), but promising. Inquiries into new projects remained strong, and the largest share of firms in more than two years reported an increase in the value of new design contracts as new work in the pipeline continues to ramp up.
Growth was sluggish in the Northeast and South. Firms located in the Midwest reported stronger growth, while firms located in the West reported declining firm billings for the seventh month out of the last eight. Additionally, billings softened at firms that specialize in residential and firms that specialize in commercial/industrial. Institutional billings continue to see the strongest growth, though at a slower pace than in the last two months.
January showed an index of 49.5 which was a sharp drop from December’s score of 55.9. AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker was not concerned about January’s drop. The new presidential administration caused a period of volatility to the index, which is not entirely uncommon.
Billings: 50.7- February; 49.5- January
Design Contracts: 54.7- February; 52.1- January
*The ABI (Architectural Billing Index) is an economic indicator of construction activity. The score is derived from results of a monthly survey asking AIA firms whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same from prior month. Anything about a score of 50 indicates an increase in billings; below a 50 indicates a decline. The score is also a predictor of construction spending with a nine to twelve-month gap between architectural spending and construction spending. ABI news is broken out on a monthly and quarterly basis.