Led by the commercial sector, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has remained in positive territory four months in a row. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.

The American Institute of Architects reported the February ABI score was 51.0, following a mark of 50.9 in January. This score reflects a slight increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).

The new projects inquiry index was 63.4, up from 61.2 the previous month and at its highest reading since July 2007.

“This is more good news for the design and construction industry that continues to see improving business conditions,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “The factors that are preventing a more accelerated recovery are persistent caution from clients to move ahead with new projects, and a continued difficulty in accessing financing for projects that developers have decided to pursue.” 

Key February ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: Midwest (56.0), South (51.3),  Northeast (51.0), West (45.6);

• Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (55.1), multi-family residential (53.3), institutional (50.3), mixed practice (46.3);

• Project inquiries index: 63.4.