The Architecture Billings Index slipped slightly to 50.6 in November, almost unchanged from October's score of 50.8, the American Institute of Architects reported Wednesday. The ABI is an indicator of future construction spending — with a lead time of nine to 12 months — as design services typically lead to new projects.
Within the index, multifamily residential had the highest score at 51.7, followed by mixed-practice at 51.3, commercial/industrial at 50.4 and institutional at 49.5.
November marked the second-consecutive month of increased demand for design services. Any score above 50 signals a bump in billings.
AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker attributed the stagnant ABI to uncertainty regarding President-elect Donald Trump's infrastructure plans. He said in a release that it is "still too early" to determine how Trump's plan will impact the industry.
Baker added that "architects will be among the first to see what new construction projects materialize," and he expects the next few months to offer a more clear direction for the future of the industry. Most construction economists expect construction activity to continue growing in 2017, with Dodge Data & Analytics forecasting a 5% increase in starts next year, and ConstructConnect forecasting a 6.8% rise.
The construction industry and its investors have been bullish on Trump's proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan. His proposal, though light on details so far, involves trading an 82% tax break for private equity investment in revenue-generating infrastructure projects. However, Trump's plan will have to overcome potential obstacles on both sides of the aisle.