I've been lagging in 2015 (first post of the new year), but it's worth the wait. Economic data suggests the construction industry continues to get healthier. Let's start with the AIA Architectural Billing Index (ABI) for December 2014. The final figure for the year was 52.2, up from 53.7 in November. The ABI figures have cooled since summer, but December is still above 50. Any value greater than 50 means that architecture billings are increasing; conversely, any value less than 50 means billings are decreasing. The ABI is a leading indicator of commercial building construction by approximately nine to 12 months. Here is the geographic and sector breakdowns:
Regional (three month moving) Averages for December 2014:
The Northeast continues to be a drag. The above 50 scores for the nationwide ABI have been riding on the backs of the South and the West. That sentence is almost redundant from a month ago.
Sector Averages for November 2014:
Project inquiries were down to 58.8 (down 62.7 in October and 64.8 in September). The Design Contracts Index (which, according to AIA highlights trends in new design contracts at architectural firms) was measured in at 54.9, down from 56.4 in October and 56.8 in September.
The ABI is down overall and every sector, except for the steroid-injecting multi-family market, are down. However, every sector is above 50. The below-50 weakness is housed in the Northeast and Midwest. Hopefully the weakness remains contained there.