WASHINGTON — On the heels of consecutive months of strengthening business conditions, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced that its Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has now reached positive territory three months in a row. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12 month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The AIA reported the January ABI score was 50.9, following a mark of 51.0 in December. This score reflects a slight increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.2, down just a notch from a reading of 61.5 the previous month.

“Even though we had a similar upturn in design billings in late 2010 and early 2011, this recent showing is encouraging because it is being reflected across most regions of the country and across the major construction sectors,” said AIA’s chief economist, Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. “But because we still continue to hear about struggling firms and some continued uncertainty in the market, we expect overall economic improvements in the design and construction sector to be modest in the coming months.”

Regional numbers for January were the Midwest at 53.7, South at 51.6, Northeast at 50.7, and West at 45.6. The sector index breakdown was multifamily residential at 52.6, commercial/industrial at 52.2, institutional at 51.1, and mixed practice at 46.1.

For more information, visit www.aia.org.

Publication date: 02/27/2012