Architecture Billings Index continues upward streak; but group warns of risk posed by “fiscal cliff”

Dec.December 19, 2012 11:30 AM

The Architecture Billings Index, a leading indicator for future construction spending, posted its fourth consecutive monthly gain in November, according to the American Institute of Architects. The ABI score in November came in at 53.2; in October, it was 52.8. As The Real Deal previously reported, September saw an index of 51.6 and August saw one of 50.2. Any score above 50 represents an increase in billings.

The new projects inquiry index also rose to 59.6 in November, from 59.4 in October.

Broken down by sector, multi-family took the lead with an index of 55.9. Mixed practice, commercial/industrial and institutional posted respective indices of 53.9, 52 and 50.5. Regionally,the Northeast was leading with a score of 56.3. The Midwest trailed slightly at 54.4 — the South and West saw respective indices of 51.1 and 49.6.

“These are the strongest business conditions we have seen since the end of 2007 before the construction market collapse,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in the release. “The real question now is if the federal budget situation gets cleared up, which will likely lead to the green lighting of numerous projects currently on hold. If we do end up going off the ‘fiscal cliff,’ then we can expect a significant setback for the entire design and construction industry.”

As previously reported, even major U.S. home builders are urging President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to steer clear of the fiscal cliff, even if it means adjusting tax rates. — Zachary Kussin

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