ABI Backslides Slightly

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) slipped in August after showing mostly healthy business conditions so far this year. 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 49.1, down from a mark of 54.7 in July. This score reflects a slight decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.8, down from a reading of 63.7 the previous month. “Over the past several years, a period of sustained growth in billings has been followed by a temporary step backwards,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fact that project inquiries and new design contracts continue to grow at a healthy pace suggests that this should not be a cause for concern throughout the design and construction industry.”

Key August ABI highlights:
• Regional averages: Midwest (56.1), South (53.8), West (50.2) Northeast (46.8)
• Sector index breakdown: institutional (53.7), mixed practice (52.8), commercial / industrial (49.7) multi-family residential (49.5)
• Project inquiries index: 61.8
• Design contracts index: 55.3

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.