Building on a series of positive scores in the previous months, the Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects has announced its Architecture Billings Index (ABI) jumped more than two points in December. A leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. AIA reported the December ABI score was 54.2, up from a reading of 52.0 in November. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billing, so this score reflects an increase in demand for design services. The new projects inquiry index was 62.6, up slightly from a mark of 61.4 in November. “This is more promising news that the design and construction industry is continuing to move toward a recovery,” says AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. “However, historically December is the most unpredictable month from a business standpoint, and therefore the most difficult month from which to interpret a trend. The coming quarter will give us a much better sense of the strength of the apparent upturn in design activity.” Key highlights include a breakdown of sector indexes, showing scores of 60.1 for multifamily residential, 52.7 for commercial/industrial, 50.6 for institutional and 47.8 for mixed practice. Regional average scores are 55.3 in the Northeast, 54.8 in the South, 52.9 in the Midwest and 48.4 in the West. For more information, visit www.aia.org.