Economy Watch: Architects’ Billings Edge Up in October

The American Institute of Architects's index was up last month, indicating a slight increase in design services among member architects.

New_Construction_Mid-City_NOLA_Feb_2015The American Institute of Architects reported on Wednesday that its Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at 50.8 in October, up from 48.4 in September. That means there’s been a slight increase in design services among member architects. Also, the new projects inquiry index was 55.4, down sharply from a reading of 59.4 the previous month, though it’s still in positive territory.

After seeing two consecutive months of contracting demand—for the first time in four years—the ABI saw a modest increase in the need for design services. The ABI reflects the nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending, so it counts as a leading economic indicator of construction activity.

Survey participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 pointing to a decline.

According to AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, there was a collective sense of uncertainty throughout the design and construction industry leading up to the presidential election. “Hopefully we’ll get a sense of what direction we will be headed once we get a clearer read on how the new administration’s policies might impact the overall economy as well as the construction industry,” he noted.