From the American Institute of Architects:
With increasing demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is continuing to strengthen. 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 February ABI score was 54.9, up slightly from a mark of 54.2 in January (see red line in chart). This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 64.8, higher than the reading of 63.2 the previous month – and its highest mark since January 2007 (see blue line).
“Conditions have been strengthening in all regions and construction sectors for the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Still, we also continue to hear a mix of business conditions in the marketplace as this hesitant recovery continues to unfold.”
MP: Both the billings index for commercial real estate construction (highest in February since July 2007 more than five years ago) and the new project inquiry index (highest since January 2007 more than six years ago) have been on solid upward trajectories since early 2009 (see arrows in chart) and are now back to their pre-recession 2007 levels. As leading indicators of future construction activity, we can expect the commercial real estate market to continue to improve going forward in 2013 and 2014. For a related post on the recovery of residential home construction, see Jimmy P’s post here.