The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) report is back and it’s ready to party so drop that Monday morning cup of coffee and take a sip of the hot data the AIA is serving up. Last month, while we were all just going about our everyday lives, the ABI was soaring to new heights. Any score above a 50 indicates an increase in billings, but the ABI wasn’t satisfied with playing it safe. No, it went all the way to 55.2. Sure, it’s not the 55.8 that got the world talking in July, but it’s still good news and better than August’s 53.0, am I right? There’s more.
As the summer turns to fall, it’s easy to look back and remember the season that was. There was that outdoor concert, that weekend trip to Montreal, that margarita served in a mason jar, and that time you and your neighbor Karl tried to repave the deck. Hey there, chin up, no need to get so nostalgic just yet, that’s what the winter is for. There is one last way to relive that glorious summer right now. How? Through the Architecture Billings Index (ABI), of course. With the newly-released August-time data it’s like the Autumnal Equinox never even happened at all.
You should probably be sitting down for this because there is some big news regarding the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) that is not for the faint of heart. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s proceed. So everyone knows that the ABI has really been flexing its muscle this summer—it posted a 52.6 in May and then a 53.5 in June. Those are pretty solid scores given that anything above a 50 indicates an increase in billings, but then July happened—and it happened in a big way. Last month, the ABI posted a 55.8. That’s important news considering the index hasn’t been that high since 2007—since before the whole global financial meltdown.
All good things must come to an end. Following a robust six months, the demand for design services has simmered down. In November, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) slid from 51.6 in October to 49.8 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). This the second month in a row that the ABI has experienced a small dip.
The slow days of the recession are long gone. Recent figures indicate that September was another robust month for the architecture industry. The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) rose from 53.8 in August to 54.3 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said that this upswing in the demand for design services is a reflection of the industry’s new and advanced design and business practices. “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,” Baker said.
Recent economic figures from the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) revealed that summer finished on a high note with a significant rise in the demand for design services. The ABI score for the month of August jumped more than a full point from July climbing up to 53.8 from 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, sees positive growth for the industry, but remains cautious about the future. “As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” Baker said. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”
Summer isn’t slowing the demand for design services, according to the AIA’s latest economic figures. In fact, numbers are on the rise. The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for July increased more than a full point spike in non-residential construction activity from June’s ABI score of 51.6 to 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). Most notably, the new projects inquiry index produced positive results with a substantial increase from 62.6 the previous month to 66.7 in July.
Underscoring the fragility of the economic recovery, the April AIA’s Architecture Billings Index dipped into negative territory for the first time in nine months. The slump to 48.6 was significant, down from 51.9 in March (any score above 50 indicates positive growth).
“Project approval delays are having an adverse effect on the design and construction industry, but again and again we are hearing that it is extremely difficult to obtain financing to move forward on real estate projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, in a statement. “There are other challenges that have prevented a broader recovery that we will examine in the coming months if this negative trajectory continues. However, given that inquiries for new projects continue to be strong, we’re hopeful that this is just a short-term dip.”
The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) for June remained in negative territory for the third month in a row. Last month AIA chief economist Kermit Baker expressed concern that the summertime doldrums might mirror a 2011 trend when the ABI lulled after an initially healthy first quarter. Now it looks as though the index is doing just that. “While not all firms are experiencing negative conditions, a large share is still coping with a sluggish and erratic marketplace,” Baker said in a statement. All of the regions of the country and all industry sectors remained in negative territory with the overall index barely budging from May’s 45.8, with June registering at 45.9 (any score below 50 reflects a decrease).