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Electrical Marketing's Leading Economic Indicators

Dec. 21, 2023
AIA architects are starting to see more inquiries for project design.

Single-family permits rise +0.7% in November

November building permits were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,460,000, -2.5% below the revised October rate of 1,498,000, but +4.1% above the Nov. 2022 rate of 1,402,000. Single‐family authorizations in November were at a rate of 976,000, +0.7% above the revised October figure of 969,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 435,000 in November.


Architects report soft conditions again in November

The AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) published monthly by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) remained below 50 for the fourth consecutive month. The score of 45.3 points increased by one point from October, indicating slightly fewer firms reporting a decline in billings. Any score below 50 points indicates decreasing business conditions but there are encouraging signs of the pipeline.  
“This marks the seventh month in 2023 with a decline in billings. Over the past three months this pace of decline has accelerated, with firms in all specializations and in all regions of the country reporting weakening business conditions,” said Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist, in the press release. “However, with signs that credit conditions are beginning to ease, firms are reporting an uptick in inquiries for future projects.”  
Firms in all regions reported a decline in billings, with business conditions remaining softest at firms located in the West as the region’s billings hit a low for the year. Firms specializing in multi-family residential continue to remain the weakest and business conditions declined further at firms with institutional specialization, despite being the strongest to start 2023.  
The ABI score is a leading economic indicator of construction activity, providing an approximately nine-to-twelve-month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The AIA Billings Index's score is derived from a monthly survey of architecture firms that measures the change in the number of services provided to clients.