Architecture Billings Index Points to Major Downturn in Commercial Construction

Falls to lowest level since 2001 with nearly 9-point drop off

Mar 19, 2008, 01:00 ET from American Institute of Architects

    WASHINGTON, March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Reflecting the
 deteriorating conditions in the housing market and overall economy, the
 Architecture Billings Index (ABI) tumbled almost nine points in February.
 As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI shows an
 approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and
 construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported
 the February ABI rating fell to 41.8, its lowest level since October 2001,
 and down dramatically from the 50.7 mark in January (any score above 50
 indicates an increase in billings). The inquiries for new projects score
 was 54.3.
     "This is a clear indication that there could be tougher times ahead for
 design firms and a noticeable slowdown in commercial construction projects
 coming online in the foreseeable future," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit
 Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. "Interestingly enough, we have also had some survey
 members reporting that their business is in great shape from a billings and
 demand standpoint. The one bright spot continues to be the institutional
 sector with continued positive conditions for construction projects such as
 schools, hospitals and government buildings."
     Key February ABI highlights:
     -- Regional averages: Northeast (51.5), South (48.3), West (46.3),
 Midwest (42.6)
     -- Sector index breakdown: institutional (54.9), multi-family
 residential (46.6), mixed practice (43.9), commercial / industrial (40.6)
     -- Billings inquiries index: 54.3
     About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
     The Architecture Billings Index is derived from a monthly "Work-on-the-
 Boards" survey and produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group.
 Based on a comparison of data compiled since the survey's inception in 1995
 with figures from the Department of Commerce on Construction Put in Place,
 the findings amount to a leading economic indicator that provides an
 approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of
 nonresidential construction activity. The diffusion indexes contained in
 the full report are derived from a monthly survey sent to a panel of AIA
 member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings
 increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended.
 According to the proportion of respondents choosing each option, a score is
 generated, which represents an index value for each month.
     CONTACT: Scott Frank of American Institute of Architects, 202-626-7457,

SOURCE American Institute of Architects