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Fifth Consecutive Month of Gains in Architecture Billings Index

Wednesday, January 23, 2013  

Fifth Consecutive Month of Gains in Architecture Billings Index

Strongest Conditions Seen in Midwest 


Des Moines, IA – January 23, 2013 – Business conditions at architecture firms continue to improve.  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 December ABI score was 52.0, down from the mark of 53.2 in November.  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, down slightly from the 59.6 mark of the previous month. 


"We are anticipating the advancements in firm billings that we saw at the end of 2012 continue through 2013 in the Midwest, especially Iowa.” said Jessica Reinert, IOM, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter. "The demand for design services has certainly increased in the Midwest.” 





The Midwest is seeing the strongest index with 55.7 in December. The second highest region is the Northeast with an index of 53.1.  


Sector Breakdown

The Architecture Billings Index also breaks down billings and design activity by sector. All sectors reflect a demand for design services. 

  • Multi-family residential: 50.5
  • Commercial/industrial: 53.4
  • Institutional: 50.9
  • Mixed practice: 53.0 

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.



The Architecture Billings Index, produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly "Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of approximately 300 AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average.  


More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the white paper "Architecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending” on the AIA web site,  



Since 1857, the American Institute of Architects has represented the professional interests of America’s architects. AIA Iowa, headquartered in Des Moines, is a statewide affiliate of the national AIA with over 960 members. AIA Iowa members express their commitment to excellence in design and are proactive in the design of livable communities. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct that assures the client, the public, and colleagues of an AIA member architect’s dedication to the highest standards in professional practice.


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AIA Iowa Firm Members