Wednesday, April 20, 2011

AIA ABI Index for March 2011 was above 50, but still not by much

I just found this on

* March ABI 50.5, down 0.1 pt

* New projects inquiries index up 2.3 pts to 58.7

* Architects 'swimming upstream' amid flat demand

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - A leading indicator of U.S. nonresidential construction activity barely budged last month, suggesting recovery remains elusive, an architects' trade group said on Wednesday.

The Architecture Billings Index slipped 0.1 point to 50.5 in March, according to the American institute of Architects.

Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings and the index is widely tracked as a predictor of construction conditions nine to 12 months in the future.

The trade group, which last month described its industry as "treading water," this month said architects are "swimming upstream."

A recovery cannot take root until financing improves, the AIA said. Large lenders remain reluctant to finance construction projects.

"Demand is not falling back into the negative territory, but also not exhibiting the same pace of increases seen at the end of 2010," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker.

The AIA's separate index of inquiries about new projects rose 2.3 points to 58.7. This index is typically higher than the headline billings index, as multiple design firms compete for the same project.

Of the four regions tracked by the AIA, only the U.S. South was below 50. The Midwest was strongest.

Joel’s comment:

The question remains, …. when will we begin to really see a real rebound in the Architecture industry?

The other day, an Architect (a former partner in medium size, multi-faceted Architecture firm, who sold his partnership interest and retired in 2007) told me that the branch office he used to manage now has only 3 team members. When he was still there, back in 2007, that same branch had 21 team members. I’ve previously mentioned this same “hard-times” problem that two of my former Architecture firms have experienced as a result of the depression-like conditions in the Architecture Industry – one firm went from around 45 employees down to 6 employees; another firm went from around 35 employees down to 4 employees.

AIA ABI Index, recent “readings”:

50.5 – March 2011

50.6 – February 2011

50.0 – January 2011

54.2 – December 2010

52.0 – November 2010

48.7 – October 2010

50.4 – September 2010

So, the ABI Index has been at 50 or higher in six of the past seven months.

Prior to September 2010, the ABI Index had not been at 50 or above since December 2007.

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