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Architecture Billings Index Positive for Fourth Straight Month

Thursday, December 20, 2012  

Architecture Billings Index Positive for Fourth Straight Month

All sectors reporting positive business conditions


Des Moines, IA – December 20, 2012 – Architecture firms across the country are seeing continued increases in billings. 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 November ABI score was 53.2, up from the mark of 52.8 in October. 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 59.6, up slightly compared to a mark of 59.4 the previous month. The ABI score for the Midwest region is 54.4, which is up significantly from October. 


"Nationally, these numbers are the strongest we’ve seen since the end of 2007, before the construction downturn,” said Jessica Reinert, IOM, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects – Iowa Chapter. "Although the Midwest region reached this level earlier this year, architects in the region anticipate an increase.” 





In addition to the Midwest, only the Northeast regions saw an increase in billings scoring 56.3. The South and West regions saw a slight drop in November scoring 51.1 and 49.6, respectively, in the ABI.  


Sector Breakdown

The Architecture Billings Index also breaks down billings and design activity by sector. All sectors saw a continued increase in billings.

  • Multi-family residential: 55.9
  • Commercial/industrial: 52.0
  • Institutional: 50.5
  • Mixed practice: 53.9 

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 967 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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