In the headline news, it is hard to find the silver linings. While those of us in the architecture/engineering/construction industry feel busy, things seem to be slowing and the Architectural Billings Index (ABI), published by the American Institute of Architects, slipped below 50, clocking in at 48.1 for August. ABI measures above 50 indicating that billings are increasing and those below 50 signaling a decrease. The ABI is a nine-to-twelve-month leading indicator of building construction activity. At this rate, contractors should expect things to start slowing down (more on that later this week).
The ABI is down 9.8% over the past year and has been below 50 for seven of the past 11 months. Not great. The major question is there enough current work for contractors to remain busy and/or will federal investments re-prime the pump.
The news is not all bad. Some subsectors demonstrated gains. The Northeast has climbed from negative to positive and the Commercial/Industrial segment is also north of 50, albeit declining month-over-month. All-in-all, a lot of declines in the table below. After years of heated activity, it is clear that the Multi-family Residential sector is ebbing, down an astounding 15.2% over the past year. Yikes.
One other tiny speck of good news is that Project Inquiries increased slightly. That means there are still people kicking the tires on some possible project designs. More details follow.