Demand for design services recorded its 12th consecutive month of growth in September, according to the latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI) from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The September ABI score was 51.1, down from August’s score of 54.2, marking a slowdown in growth for architecture billings. The long stretch of growth in billings is a great sign for the construction industry heading into 2019.
For the ABI, all scores above 50 indicate an increase in billings and scores below 50 indicate a decrease in demand for design services. The ABI acts as a barometer for nonresidential construction starts with construction activity following architectural billings by nine months to a year.
Another positive sign, both the project inquiries index and the design contracts index were positive in September. The project inquiries index increased from 58.0 in August to 58.8 in the latest report. The design contracts index, which had dropped below 50 to 49.6 last month, saw a nice increase to 54.1.
Except for the Northeast, the region averages were all saw growth in billings in September. The Midwest saw a massive increase from 52.5 to 59.7 in September. The South had a score of 54.1 in September, down a bit from the 57.0 in August. The West was also down from the 54.2 in August to 53.1, indicating slowing growth. The Northeast continues to fall, dropping from 46.9 in August to 46.6 in September.
All the sectors had growth again in September. Institutional continued to climb up, going from a 52.3 to a 55.1 in September. Multi-Family Residential dropped to 54.9 after leading all sectors with a 55.6 in August. Mixed Practice improved from a 51.7 to a 53.4 in the latest report. Commercial/Industrial dropped from a 53.6 in August to a 50.8, falling nearly three points but still managing to report growth in billings.