The American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index (ABI), a leading economic indicator of construction activity, increased in July with an ABI rating of 52.7 compared with 51.6 in June. The inquiries for new projects score was 66.7 compared with 62.6 in June. A score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.
Regional averages include the Northeast’s rating of 54.3; South’s rating of 54.2; West’s rating of 51.1; and Midwest’s rating of 50.8. Mixed-practice construction received a rating of 56.9; commercial/industrial construction received a rating of 54.2; multifamily residential construction received a rating of 53.3; and institutional construction received a rating of 50.6.
“There continues to be encouraging signs that the design and construction industry continues to improve,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “But we also hear a wide mix of business conditions all over the country, ranging from outstanding and booming to slowly improving to flat. In fact, plenty of architecture firms are reporting very weak business conditions, as well, so it is premature to declare the entire sector has entered an expansion phase.”
The ABI is derived from a monthly survey produced by AIA’s Economics & Market Research Group. The survey is distributed to a panel of AIA member-owned firms and asks whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same during the previous month. Based on comparison of data compiled since 1995, ABI results provide a nine- to 12-month view into the future of nonresidential construction activity.