The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Architectural Billings Index (ABI) is a good leading indicator of construction activity that is published each month.
It is compiled nationally, regionally, and by sector, and generally predicts conditions in the market in the next six to nine months. Values above 50 indicate growth, while values below 50 indicate a decline.
The ABI spent much of 2020 abnormally low and much of 2021 abnormally high. It should stabilize by the end of this year, although it is still too early to say for certain. Its most recent value (January 2022) is 51.0, the same as in December 2021. The South has taken the lead as the most active region, showing 61.2 as its most recent value. The Midwest is second, with a value of 51.5. Both the West and Northeast have dipped below 50, indicating that they’re likely to contract.
The residential market seems to have finally cooled off enough for other sectors to take the lead. The commercial/industrial sector now leads, with a value of 54.2. Thanks to eased restrictions, people are returning downtown, sometimes for the first time in two years.