Wednesday, August 23, 2017

AIA: Architecture Billings Index "growth moderates" in July

by Bill McBride on 8/23/2017 11:47:00 AM

Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.

From the AIA: Architecture Billings Index growth moderates

For the sixth consecutive month, architecture firms reported increasing demand for design services as reflected in the July Architecture Billings Index (ABI). 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. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the July ABI score was 51.9, down from a score of 54.2 in the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.5, up from a reading of 58.6 the previous month, while the new design contracts index increased from 53.7 to 56.4.

“The July figures show the continuation of healthy trends in the construction sector of our economy,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “In addition to the balanced increases in design billings across all major regions and construction sectors, the strong gains in new project work coming into architecture firms points to future growth in design and construction activity over coming quarters.”
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• Regional averages: South (53.8), Midwest (53.8), Northeast (53.6), West (50.9)

• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.8), commercial / industrial (55.4), institutional (52.0), mixed practice (48.4)
emphasis added
AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 51.9 in July, up from 54.2 the previous month. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects' services.

Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.

According to the AIA, there is an "approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending" on non-residential construction.  This index was positive in 9 of the last 12 months, suggesting a further increase in CRE investment in 2017 and early 2018.