- The Architectural Billings Index fell to 49.6 in January, down from the upwardly revised mark of 51.3 in December, the American Institute of Architects reported Wednesday.
- The January score signals a decline in design services, as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.
- Within segments of the index, multifamily residential came out on top, with a score of 51.9, followed by commercial/industrial at 50.5, institutional at 49.9, and mixed-practice at 49.0.
The ABI is an indicator of future construction spending — with a lead time of about nine to 12 months — as design services lead to new commercial projects.
AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker cited overall "rocky" conditions in the economy last month as contributing factors to the decline. "Some of the fallout of this uncertainty may have affected progress on design projects," he said in a release.
Baker added, however, that he is optimistic about the upcoming year, as "the fundamentals are mostly sound in the nonresidential design and construction market."
This week has brought a string of disappointing construction reports, as builder confidence slipped three points and housing starts declined 3.8%. On the bright side, however, CMD reported that January nonresidential construction starts beat expectations and rose 9.8%.