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Architecture Billings Index dipped to record lows in August

The AIA's monthly billings index reported a major decline this summer. (Borko Manigoda/Pixabay)

Looks like nonresidential construction in the United States has dipped yet again to record lows. Per the AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI), the demand for design services on commercial, industrial, and mixed practice projects has fallen from a score of 50.1 in July to 47.2 in August.

The ABI gives architects a glimpse into what the construction industry will look like a little less than a year from now. When the ABI falls below 50, that means billings have decreased from the prior month and helps the industry understand where to look for new work and of what kind. In May, AN reported on what was then the largest contraction the U.S. has seen in over two years: from February to March, the ABI fell from 47.8 to 50.3. The drop in the most recently-issued index is even larger.

“The sizeable drop in both design billings and new project activity, coming on the heels of six months of disappointing growth in billings, suggest that the design expansion that began in mid-2010 is beginning to face headwinds,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker in a statement

Calculated every three months, the average regional statistics for August showed that there was an increase in billings across the West with 51.2, but individual decreases in the Northeast (49.1), South (48.2) and Midwest (46.4). 

Per sector—also broken down quarterly—the Architecture Billings Index revealed that institutional and multi-family residential work saw slight increases with 50.6 and 50.5 respectively. Commercial/industrial projects dropped to 46.9 and mixed practice projects fell to 46.3. 

Furthermore, the Project Inquiries index for August was 54.5 and the Design Contracts index was 47.9.

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