Electrical Marketing’s Key Economic Indicators

Jan. 27, 2012
Architectural billings up; PMI up; EM's Key Indicators are looking stronger

ABI remains in growth territory. After showing struggling business conditions for most of 2011, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has now reached positive terrain in consecutive months. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to twelve-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., reported the December ABI score was 52 points, following the exact same mark in November. This score reflects an overall increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 64 points, down just a point from a reading of 65 points the previous month.

“We saw nearly identical conditions in November and December of 2010 only to see momentum sputter and billings fall into negative territory as we moved through 2011, so it’s too early to be sure that we are in a full recovery mode,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker. “Nevertheless, this is very good news for the design and construction industry and it’s entirely possible conditions will slowly continue to improve as the year progresses.”

Purchasing Managers Index increases 1.2 points in December to 53.9 percent. In a press release announcing the December PMI results, Bradley Holcomb, chair of the Tempe, Ariz.-based Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said, “Manufacturing is finishing out the year on a positive note, with new orders, production and employment all growing in December at faster rates than in November, and with an optimistic view toward the beginning of 2012 as reflected by the panel in this month’s survey.”

Railroads hauling more freight in January. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported an increase in weekly rail traffic for the week ending January 14, with U.S. railroads originating 298,560 carloads, up 5.5 percent compared with the same week last year.