The American Institute of Architects’ Architectural Billings Index (ABI) is a leading indicator of growth in the construction industry.
Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings relative to the previous month (and therefore an increase in expected construction activity) while a score below 50 indicates a decline. The most recent ABI score is 50: indicating slight growth staying unchanged.
The West region saw an ABI value of 40. It has not recorded a value above 50 since February 2023. The South and Northeast regions are seeing a slight decline, with values of 48.5 and 48.9, according to October 2023 data. The overall picture is a mixed bag, with interest rates stubbornly high and many projects looking to take advantage of federal money rather than begin construction as soon as possible.
All three sectors – industrial/commercial, institutional, and residential– shrank during the 4th quarter of 2023. This seems to hint at underlying uncertainty about the state of the economy going forward – a recession on the horizon looks less likely than it did last January, but remains a distinct possibility. Many in the industry appear to be keeping their powder dry in anticipation of a policy change.