After a slight contraction in August, the September Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has returned to positive territory. As the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports, the September ABI score was 53.7, up from a mark of 49.1. The new projects inquiry index was 61.0, down from a reading of 61.8 the previous month.
“Aside from uneven demand for design services in the Northeast, all regions are project sectors are in good shape,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Areas of concern are shifting to supply issues for the industry, including volatility in building materials costs, a lack of a deep enough talent pool to keep up with demand, as well as a lack of contractors to execute design work.”
A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break.
- Midwest (54.2)
- South (54.5)
- Northeast (43.7)
- West (51.7)
Sector Index Breakdown:
- Multi-family residential (49.5)
- Mixed Practice (52.6)
- Commercial/Industrial (50.9)
- Institutional (51.5)
Key August ABI Highlights:
- Project inquiries index (61.0)
- Design contracts index (53.2)
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. Regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers. Any score above 50 reflects an increase in design services.