Still not entering into the positive phase, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) increased for the third straight month in August. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to twelve-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., reported the August ABI score was 48.2, up slightly from a reading of 47.9 the previous month. This score reflects a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was also up, moving from 53.1 to 54.6.

“Project cancelations, regardless of when they happen in the design phase, continue to be the main road block to recovery for the construction sector,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. “Numerous projects have been put on hold indefinitely over the last several months with little hope that they will be resumed. Work that is being done is more likely smaller renovation projects, as opposed to new buildings.”

Key August ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (50.9), Midwest (49.2), West (45.8), South (45.3)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (50.6), ), multi-family residential (46.9), institutional (46.0), mixed practice (42.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 54.6