Architecture Billings Index Surges Higher

Written by Brett Linton

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) increased yet again for September, reaching its second highest level in 2013, just behind February. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported on Wednesday that the September ABI score was 54.3, up from 53.8 in August, and up from 52.7 in July. Note that any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. The new projects inquiry index was 58.6, down from 63.0 in the previous month, and down from the July reading of 66.7.

On a 3MMA basis, project billings were at a 6 month high in September at 53.6, a month over month increase for the 3rd month in a row. Project inquiries were recorded at 62.8, down from the month before but even with July numbers.

“The prolonged economic downturn that has affected the design and construction industry has actually resulted in the increased productivity levels as reported by architecture firms,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “ In addition to new approaches to business challenges, a very competitive marketplace, the utilization of new technologies, and a renewed focus on efficiency have architecture firms realizing all-time highs in workplace productivity, and these new efficiencies can greatly benefit clients from a project timeline and budget standpoint.”

Key September ABI Highlights:

– Regional averages: West (60.6), South (54.1), Midwest (51.0), Northeast (50.7)
– Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (57.9), multi-family residential (55.6), mixed practice (55.4), institutional (50.4)
– Project inquiries index: 58.6 (Source: American Institute of Architects)

Brett Linton

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