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Economic Indexes Show Slow but Sustained Growth in March

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), and Dodge Data & Analytics each calculate an index that provides a predictive measurement of future construction industry economic conditions. Together, these indicators provide a picture of expectations for the construction economy for the next 12 months.



The general trend in all three of these indexes is up. The Dodge Momentum Index (DMI) recorded a sixth consecutive month of growth, and CFMA's CONFINDEX is up for a third consecutive quarter. AIA's Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has shown positive growth in 5 of the past 6 months. All four regions reported an uptick in architectural billings, including the beleaguered West region, which has been experiencing a slow but steady decline since June of last year.

Year over year, ABI is up 4.6 percent, CONFINDEX is up 5.7 percent, and, driven primarily by institutional projects entering the planning stage, DMI is up a whopping 23 percent. Together, these leading indicators show that the construction economy should continue to expand in 2017, although the rate of growth may be slowing. Further, while chief financial officers responding to the CONFINDEX survey expect their firms to be busier, they do not expect profits to track with the increase in volume as materials and labor costs continue to increase.


The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is calculated by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) based on a survey of member design firms. A score above 50 indicates growth in billings, and a score below 50 indicates a decline in billings. ABI tends to lead nonresidential construction spending by about 11 months.

CONFINDEX is a measure of confidence in the health of the US commercial construction industry as calculated by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) based on a random survey of 300 construction chief financial officers. A reading of less than 100 indicates pessimism among the survey participants, while a reading of more than 100 indicates optimism.

The Dodge Momentum Index (DMI) is a 12-month leading indicator of construction spending for nonresidential building. It is calculated using proprietary Dodge Data & Analytics data on first-issued construction planning reports for actual construction projects provided by a national network of reporters. DMI values are normalized against the Year 2000 value of 100.