Following a generally positive performance in 2015, the Architecture Billings Index has begun this year by modestly dipping back into negative territory.  

As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead-time between architecture billings and construction spending.

The American Institute of Architects reported the January ABI score was 49.6, down slightly from the mark of 51.3 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 55.3, down from a reading of 60.5 the previous month.

“The fundamentals are mostly sound in the nonresidential design and construction market,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “January was a rocky month throughout the economy, with falling oil prices, international economic concerns and steep declines in stock market valuations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some of the fallout of this uncertainty may have affected progress on design projects.”

Key January ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (50.8), Northeast (50.4), South (50.3), Midwest (48.9).
  • Sector index breakdown: multifamily (51.9), commercial/industrial (50.5), institutional (49.9), mixed practice (49.0).
  • Project inquiries index: 55.3.
  • Design contracts index: 50.9.