Upward March: Billings Index Regains Positive Territory

National
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
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Billings (blue) and inquiries (red) for the past 12 months. (The Architect's Newspaper)

Billings (blue) and inquiries (red) for the past 12 months. (The Architect's Newspaper)

The Architecture Billings Index is up, hitting 52.0 in November, the first positive ground since touching 51 in August (anything over 50 indicates an increase in billings). The roller-coaster volatility of the past few months—we held our breath and skipped reporting September’s down and October’s up—suggests cautious optimism that the index which tracks the approximate nine-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending is finally in a solid swing upwards.

Billings by region: Northeast (orange), Midwest (blue), South (red), West (green).

Billings by region: Northeast (orange), Midwest (blue), South (red), West (green).

Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, who also spent the fall refusing to jinx the index with overpromises, said in a statement: “Hopefully, this uptick in billings is a sign that a recovery phase is in the works. However, given the volatility that we’ve seen nationally and internationally recently, we’ll need to see several more months of positive readings before we’ll have much confidence that the U.S. construction recession is ending.”

The regional highlights were a mix: with only the South (54.4) and the Midwest (50.9) in the black. Optimism is reflected in a big leap however in inquiries up to 65.0 from last month’s reading of 57.3. It looks like 2012 may well be the year to breathe again.

Billings by sector: Residential (green), commercial/industrial (pink), institutional (gold), mixed-use (purple).

Billings by sector: Residential (green), commercial/industrial (pink), institutional (gold), mixed-use (purple).

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