The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) pointed to a slower decline in July in design activity at U.S. architecture firms. 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) reported the July ABI score was 48.7, up considerably from the mark of 45.9 in June. This score reflects a decrease in demand for design services (any score below50 indicates a decline in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 56.3, up from mark of 54.4 the previous month.
“Even though architecture firm billings nationally were down again in July, the downturn moderated substantially,” said AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “As long as overall economic conditions continue to show improvement, modest declines should shift over to growth in design activity over the coming months.”
Key July ABI Highlights:
Regional averages: South (52.7), Midwest (46.7) West (45.3), Northeast (44.3)
Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.4), mixed practice (49.1), commercial / industrial (48.4), institutional (46.6)
Project inquiries index: 56.3
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.
About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms.
Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline.