And there it is, after months in negative territory the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) jumped into positive territory in May with a score 52.6—that’s up from 49.6 in April. Any score over 50 signals an increase in billings. The new projects inquiry also jumped from 59.1 to 63.2. Rounding out the positive news is the AIA’s new design contracts indicator, which posted a 52.5. Nice job by all.
By region, the strongest gains were in the South (58.1) and the Midwest (51.3). The Northeast (47.6) and West (46.9) had a rougher month. And by sector, the breakouts were multi-family residential (58.2), commercial/industrial (53.6), and mixed practice (50.4). Institutional was one the other side of the ledger with a 47.3.
“Volatility continues to be the watchword in the design and construction markets, with firms in some regions of the country, and serving some sectors of the industry, reporting strong growth, while others are indicating continued weakness,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said in a statement. “However, overall, it appears that activity has recovered from the winter slump, and design professions should see more positive than negative numbers in the coming months.”
In other data news, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) released a statistical report this week that found the “median age of people at initial licensure is the lowest in 10 years.” Essentially, architects are getting licensed earlier in life—the median age for licensure is currently 34. The board also found “an increase since 2011 in the number of women applying for NCARB Records. The percentage of women applying continues to hold around 40 percent—a marked increase from 10 percent in the early 1990s.
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