The encouraging part of the index is that project inquiries grew to 59.1 showing signs that future demand will pick up. Its the highest level since September 2007 which is when the financial crisis really began.
It'll be interesting to see how this index progresses in the next few months. The stimulus bill clearly didn't meet the needs of this country if ABI is still negative this many months later. If we could only learn from the Communist in China.
Washington, D.C. – October 21, 2009 – As the nonresidential construction industry continues to struggle, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) showed a nominal improvement in September. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the September ABI rating was 43.1, up slightly from 41.7 in August. This score indicates a decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry score was 59.1, its highest level since September 2007.
“The fact that inquires for new project are so high is an encouraging sign that we may be seeing new construction activity entering the design phase,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But that optimism has to be tempered by the fact that the marketplace is so competitive that firms are broadening their search for new projects, thereby inflating the number of inquiries that they are reporting. However, some larger stimulus-funded building activity should be coming online over the next several months, partially offsetting the steep decline in private commercial construction.”