The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was positive in July for the sixth consecutive month, and tenth out of the last twelve months as demand across all project types continued to increase. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the July ABI score was 51.5, down from the mark of 52.6 in the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 57.5, down from a reading of 58.6 the previous month.
“The uncertainty surrounding the presidential election is causing some funding decisions regarding larger construction projects to be delayed or put on hold for the time being,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “It’s likely that these concerns will persist up until the election, and therefore we would expect higher levels of volatility in the design and construction sector in the months ahead.”
Key July ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: South (56.9), Midwest (50.1), Northeast (49.3), West (49.2)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.2), institutional (50.7), mixed practice (50.5), commercial/industrial (50.3)
- Project inquiries index: 57.5
- Design contracts index: 51.8
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.