This morning, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported that the demand for design services in the month of September fell to a 49.1. The Architecture Billings Index* (ABI) is an indicator of future construction spending with a nine to twelve-month lead time.
The August ABI score came in at 53.7 so September proves to be a sharp drop. The ABI score has not been below a 50 since January.
Within the index, the commercial/industrial sector dipped to 54 in September, from 57.6 in August. Despite the drop, the industry’s score is still above 50, indicating an increase in demand for design services. The institutional sector bounced back slightly, inching up from 50.1 in August to a solid 51 in September. Multifamily dropped again, but came in at a 51, indicating a level of demand for services in this sector.
New project inquiries came in at 59. This is a drop from August’s score of 62.5 but indicates positive growth in new project queries overall.
Despite the sudden drop in September’s architecture billings, the year’s overall demand for design services has been strong, with the measure holding in positive territory since February. Activity is expected to remain strong, as indicated by the new project inquiries and new design contracts.
*The ABI (Architectural Billing Index) is an economic indicator of construction activity. The score is derived from results of a monthly survey asking AIA firms whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same from the prior month. Anything about a score of 50 indicates an increase in billings; below a 50 indicates a decline. The score is also a predictor of construction spending with a nine to a twelve-month gap between architectural spending and construction spending. ABI news is broken out on a monthly and quarterly basis.