The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) remained positive again in June after the first decline in ten months in April. 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) reported the June ABI score was 51.6, down from a mark of 52.9 in May. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.6, up sharply from the reading of 59.1 the previous month.
Key ABI highlights and details on the construction industries remaining threats after the break...
“With steady demand for design work in all major nonresidential building categories, the construction sector seems to be stabilizing,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Threats to a sustained recovery include construction costs and labor availability, inability to access financing for real estate projects, and possible adverse effects in the coming months from sequestration and the looming federal debt ceiling debate.”
Key June ABI highlights:
- National: At 51.6, down from 52.9, the national billings score has come in above 50 for 10 of the last 11 months, the best run since the financial crisis.
- Project inquiries index: At 62.6, up from 59.1, the inquiries score returns surpasses 60 for the fourth month in the last six.
- Northeast: 55.6, up from 52.7, the 10th straight month above 10.
- South: 54.8, up from 53.3, the 12th straight month above 50.
- West: 51.2, up from 51.0, the 11th straight month above 50.
- Midwest: 48.3, up from 47.8, the third straight month under 50 and the only region or sector showing contraction.
Sector index breakdown:
- Commercial / Industrial: At 54.7, up from 51.0, the ninth straight month above 50.
- Multifamily Residential: At 54.0, up from 53.2, the 14th straight month above 50.
- Mixed Practice: At 52.4, up from 51.0, the 10th straight month above 50.
- Institutional: At 51.8, up from 51.4, the 11th straight month above 50.
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.