For the third month in a row, the American Institute of Architects’ monthly release of their Architecture Billings Index is in positive territory, signifying growth in the design and construction industry. At 50.9, the ABI is just above the growth threshold of 50.0, but it is a trend that hopefully will have traction this time around. (And it is down very slightly from a revised December figure of 51.0.) As the Institute’s chief economist, Kermit Baker, says in their press release: “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.” There are, however, enough reports of weakness in the industry that Baker expects the growth to remain modest for at least the next few months.

In addition, each January, the AIA revises past numbers. The new data shows that the strong periods for the ABI over the past year were not quite as strong as previously thought, and the weaker months slightly less weak—on the whole. Project inquiries were also revised up slightly for the first half of 2011, and down slightly for the end of the year. But for the most part, the numbers are comparable to what they had been before the revision. One notable revision is that the November and December 2011 inquiries figures were revised from 65.0 and 64.0 down to 61.4 and 61.5, respectively. The index for project inquiries for January 2012 is 61.2.  (And all of the figures have been revised in the charts seen below.)

Regional Averages
Midwest: 53.7
South: 51.6
Northeast: 50.7
West: 45.6

Sector Index Breakdown
Multifamily Residential: 52.6
Commercial/Industrial: 52.2
Institutional: 51.1
Mixed Practice: 46.1
(The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index and inquiries are monthly numbers.)