Industry Outlook

ABI Remains Positive in March

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported that architecture firm buildings rose for the sixth consecutive month in March, although the paceĀ  of growth slowed modestly from February.

Overall, the AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for March was 51.0 (any score over 50 indicates billings growth), which still reflects a healthy business environment. While business conditions softened somewhat at firms located in the Northeast region, billings remained strong at firms located in the South and West regions.

The Dodge Momentum Index jumped 6.1 percent in April to 163.0 (the year 2000=100) from the revised March readings of 153.7. The momentum index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. During the last two months,, the commercial portion of the momentum index had posted the most aggressive growth, fueled by continued low vacancy rates for commercial buildings as well as the potential benefits from the tax cuts passed in December.

New construction starts in March increased 11 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $785.2 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The gain followed modest declines in January (down 2 percent) and February (down 3 percent), and brings the pace of total construction starts to the highest level over the past six months.

Both nonresidential building and residential building eased back slightly in March, with respective declines of 1 percent and 2 percent.

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