With all geographic regions and building project sectors showing positive conditions, there continues to be a heightened level of demand for design services signaled in the latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI). 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 August ABI score was 53.7, up from a score of 51.9 in the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services provided by U.S. architecture firms (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.5, up from a reading of 59.5 the previous month, while the new design contracts index eased somewhat from 56.4 to 54.2.
“The August results continue a string of very positive readings from the design professions, pointing to future healthy growth across the major construction sectors, as well as across the major regions of the country,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Given the focus and discussions around the infrastructure needs of the nation, we expect strong growth in design activity for the coming months and years.”
Key August ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: South (55.7), Northeast (54.3), Midwest (52.5), West (51.3)
- Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (57.6), multi-family residential (53.8), mixed practice (52.5), institutional (50.1)
- Project inquiries index: 62.5
- Design contracts index: 54.2
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.