I'm about a week late with this, but the AIA Architectural Billing Index (ABI) is still moderately strong even though it's down from last month's blowout results. If this is your first time at this blog, here's some background: the ABI records architectural billings on commercial building projects. Any value greater than 50 means that architecture billings are increasing; conversely, any value less than 50 means billings are decreasing. The ABI is a leading indicator of commercial building construction by approximately nine to 12 months. Without further ado, here are the results:
Regional (three month moving) Averages for July 2014:
Three out of four declined. Ouch, but not unexpected after last month's huge increases.
Sector Averages for July 2014:
Project inquiries were down to 62.6 (from an astonishing 66.0 in July). The new measure, Design Contracts Index (which, according to AIA highlights trends in new design contracts at architectural firms) clocked in at 56.9 in August (up strongly from 54.9 in July). According to Kermit Baker, AIA's chief economist, "One of the key triggers for accelerating growth at architectural firms is that long-stalled construction projects are starting to come back to life in many areas across the country." If those moth-balled projects require additional design, that could explain the increase in new design contracts among declines in many of the other data points. The declines should not induce panic. The numbers are still overall pretty good and we're above 50 across the board, so things are improving.