The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) remains in negative territory for the second straight month. While the April index ticked up to 49.6, from 48.8 last month, it was not enough to break 50, which signals an increase in design services. The new projects inquiry, however, increased from 57.9 to 59.1.
The overall decrease was caused by disappointing numbers posted in the West (48.9), Midwest (47.0), and especially in the Northeast (42.9). While those regions came up short, the South showed signs of life with a score of 57.5 By sector, multi-family residential (52.6), commercial/industrial (50.2), and mixed practice (50.7) all saw gains, while institutional (47.1) could not break 50. The AIA’s latest metric introduced last month, the design contracts index, recorded a steep increase to 54.6.
“Despite an easing in demand for architecture services over the last couple of months, there is a pervading sense of optimism that business conditions are poised to improve as the year moves on,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “With a healthy figure for design contracts this should translate into improved billings in the near future.”