Architecture Billings Index Decline Isn't As Steep

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, pointed to a slower decline in July in design activity at U.S. architecture firms. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects reported the July ABI score was 48.7, up from the mark of 45.9 in June. This score reflects a decrease in demand for design services (any score less than 50 indicates a decline in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 56.3, up from mark of 54.4 the previous month.

“Even though architecture firm billings nationally were down again in July, the downturn moderated substantially,” says AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. “As long as overall economic conditions continue to show improvement, modest declines should shift over to growth in design activity over the coming months.”

Key July ABI highlights include:

  • Regional averages: South (52.7), Midwest (46.7), West (45.3), Northeast (44.3)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (51.4), mixed practice (49.1), commercial/industrial (48.4), institutional (46.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 56.3

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