For the eight consecutive month, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting a steady upturn in design activity. 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. Although the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 51.9, down from a mark of 54.9 in February, this score still reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.
“Business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But as we have continued to report, the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months.”
Key ABI highlights and details indicating higher employment rates for intern architects after the break…
Key March ABI highlights:
- Billings: 51.9, down from 54.9, eighth straight month of growth.
- Inquiries: 60.1, down from 64.8, third straight month above 60.
- Northeast: 54.6, up from 54.3, highest score since December 2007, and seventh straight month above 50.
- Midwest: 53.9, up from 53.8, sixth straight month above 50.
- South: 53.6, up from 53.4, highest score since December 2007, and ninth straight month above 50.
- West: 51.9, down from 53.4, eighth straight month above 50.
- Multifamily Residential: 56.9, down from 58.0, 11th month above 50. In addition, the sector has come in above 50 for 25 of the past 30 months, making it the strongest sector since the financial crisis.
- Commercial: 53.5, down from 53.8, sixth straight month above 50. In addition, the sector has come in above 50 for 27 of the past 35 months, making it the second strongest sector since the recession.
- Institutional: 50.6, up from 50.3, eighth straight month above 50.
- Mixed Practice: 53.3, down from 54.3, seventh straight month above 50.
In related news, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) indicate higher employment rates for intern architects. An Internship and Career Survey revealed the news, along with a general sense of optimism in the future of employment prospects for the architecture profession.
Highlights from the full Internship and Career Survey include:
- 78% of respondents reported being employed in professional architecture work – an 8% increase from 2010
- 6% of respondents reported that they are unemployed – an 11% decrease from 2010
- 70% of respondents said that they would remain in the architecture profession after having been laid off
- 62% of interns indicate it taking three to five years to complete the Intern Development Program (IDP)
- 53% of interns were able to complete all 17 IDP experience area requirements at one firm
- 40% of interns are taking the Architecture Registration Examination concurrent with IDP
There were more than 10,000 responses to the survey that was executed in 2012 by The Rickinson Group, an independent third-party marketing research supplier.