Barack Obama
Graphs courtesy AIA

The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) sunk to 34.7 in November, the lowest score in its 13-year history. In comparison, the score was 54.8 just one year prior.

The inquiries score also hit a record low in November: 38.3, down from 51 in September.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) compiles the index based on surveys sent to mostly commercial architects. The index has fallen below 50 for 10 straight months (a number below 50 indicates a decrease in billings).

The commercial sector has taken a steep dive, hitting 26.7 in November. Multi-family residential was also down, from October’s 32.5 to 30. “What’s just as troubling is that the institutional sector—schools, hospitals, and public buildings—is also beginning to react to tighter credit conditions and a weakening economy,” says Kermit Baker, the AIA’s chief economist. The institutional score dipped to 40.8 in November, down from 41.3 in October, and 44.4 in September. 

In terms of regions, all had record-low scores. The Midwest had the lowest: 31.4. The West dipped to 33.5; the South, 36.8; and the Northeast, 39.5.

Read more economic coverage in our Recession Reports online section.