Electrical Marketing’s Key Economic Indicators - December 2014

Dec. 19, 2014

Building permits slide in November. The U.S. Census Bureau said privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,035,000, 5.2% below the revised October rate of 1,092,000 and 0.2% below the Nov. 2013 estimate of 1,037,000. Single-family authorizations in November were at a rate of 639,000, 1.2% below the revised October figure of 647,000.

ABI skids 2.8 points in November. Buoyed by sustained demand for apartments and condos and coupled with state and local governments moving ahead with delayed public projects, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has been positive for seven consecutive months. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to twelve-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., the ABI’s publisher, reported the November ABI score was 50.9, down from a mark of 53.7 in October. This score reflects a slight increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). “Demand for design services has slowed somewhat from the torrid pace of the summer, but all project sectors are seeing at least modest growth,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Architecture firms are expecting solid mid-single digit gains in revenue for 2014, but heading into 2015, they are concerned with finding quality contractors for projects, coping with volatile construction materials costs, and with finding qualified architecture staff for their firms.”

PMI sees slight dip in November. The November PMI registered 58.7%, a decrease of 0.3 percentage point from October’s reading of 59% percent, indicating continued expansion in manufacturing, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, which publishes the PMI. The New Orders Index registered 66%, an increase of 0.2 percentage point from the reading of 65.8% in October. ISM said comments from the panel are “upbeat about strong demand and new orders, with some expressing concerns about West Coast port slowdowns and the threat of a potential dock strike.”