Design demand ended 2013 on a low note, with the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) posting its first consecutive months of contraction since May and June of 2012. The December ABI score of 48.5 dropped from a 49.8 reading in November. New project queries, however, did see a bump to 59.2 from the previous month’s mark of 57.8.
“What we thought last month was an isolated dip now bears closer examination to see what is causing the slowdown in demand for architectural services,” American Institute of Architects (AIA) chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, said in a statement. “It is possible that some of this can be attributed to the anxiety in the marketplace caused by the shutdown of the federal government, but it will be important to see how business conditions fare through the first quarter of the new year when we no longer have end of the year issues to deal with.”
The commercial/industrial and institutional sectors struggled with scores of 47.1 and 44.8, respectively, as mixed practice reported a 51.0 mark. The West (53.2) and South (51.2) came out ahead of the Midwest (47.0) and Northeast (42.8).