Despite having its highest score since January, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for July marks the sixth month of consecutive negative scores. The July ABI rating was 46.8, up slightly from the 46.1 mark in June (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The inquiries for new projects score was 54.6.

The ABI is derived from a monthly Work-on-the-Boards survey and produced by the Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects (AIA) Economics & Market Research Group. Based on a comparison of data compiled since the survey’s inception in 1995 with figures from the Department of Commerce on Construction Put in Place, the findings amount to a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction activity.

“Financing for new projects continues to be a problem,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Many projects are being reconsidered due to construction cost increases. And while there are a good number of projects still in the queue, owners are taking longer to proceed to the next phase of the design process.”