The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score was 51.4, following a very weak score of 45.1 in July. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).
Additionally, the new projects inquiry index was 56.9, up sharply from a reading of 53.7 the previous month. 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.
“Based on the poor economic conditions over the last several months, this turnaround in demand for design services is a surprise,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Many firms are still struggling, and continue to report that clients are having difficulty getting financing for viable projects, but it’s possible we’ve reached the bottom of the down cycle.”
Regional averages were: Midwest (49.0), South (47.4), West (47.4) and Northeast (46.5). By sector, the breakdown was mixed practice (50.9), institutional (48.5), commercial / industrial (46.0), multi-family residential (44.8). The project inquiries index sits at 56.9.
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.