- The Architectural Billings Index rebounded to 50.9 in December, up from 49.3 in November, the American Institute of Architects reported. The December score indicates a slight increase in demand for design services, as any score above 50 signals an increase in billings.
- Based on a three-month moving average, the Northeast (46.7) and Midwest (46.1) saw a decreased demand for design services, while that demand increased in the West (53.7) and South (53.3). By sector, the multifamily (52.9) and institutional (52.2) segments saw increased billing, while commercial/industrial (47.3) and mixed practice (46.5) experienced decreased demand.
- The AIA project inquiries index was 60.2, the design contracts index was 51, and according to the AIA, although there were a few occasions of decreased demand for design services on a month-to-month basis in 2015, the ABI had a positive end to 2015 with increased billings in eight months of the year.
The ABI is a leading indicator of future construction activity, as it represents the 9-12-month lead time between billings and construction spending.
AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said architecture firms have been experiencing a variety of business conditions for the last several years but that overall, "ABI scores for 2015 averaged just below the strong showing in 2014, which points to another healthy year for construction this year."
The up and down of the ABI, along with increases and decreases in regional numbers and sectors throughout the year is reflective of the volatility seen in other construction indicators, including jobs numbers. For example, the industry saw impressive hiring numbers in October, November and December of last year yet housing starts are down for December after that metric, following the theme of volatility, saw a spike in November.