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AIA: “Demand for design service continues to grow” in February

Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.

From the AIA: Demand for design service continues to grow
Demand for design services in February grew slightly since January, according to a new report today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for February was 51.3, up from a score of 51.0 in January. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. Firms reported both project inquiries and design contracts remaining positive in February, but while project inquiries increased to 62.5 from 61.9 in January, design contracts decreased to 55.2 from 56.1.

“Despite the continued healthy demand for design services, activity is plateauing as firms face a myriad of external challenges, from staffing to supply chain disruptions to high inflation and rising interest rates,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “While the rebound from the pandemic has positively impacted firms in most regions, the prolonged lack of demand for design services in the Northeast is of growing concern.”

• Regional averages: South (58.6); Midwest (53.2); West (47.9); Northeast (44.3)

• Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (55.4); mixed practice (53.8); multi-family residential (52.6); institutional (47.2)
emphasis added

Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 51.3 in February, up from 51.0 in January. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects’ services.

Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.

This index has been positive for thirteen consecutive months.  

This index usually leads CRE investment by 9 to 12 months, so this index suggests a pickup in CRE investment in 2022.

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