Economy Watch: Architects Keep Busy for Sixth Straight Month

Increases in design billings across all major regions and construction sectors signal future growth in design and construction activity in the coming months, according to the American Institute of Architects' latest Architecture Billings Index report.

Source: American Institute of Architects Architecture Billings Index, July 2017
Source: American Institute of Architects Architecture Billings Index, July 2017

Architecture firms have reported increasing demand for their design services for the past six months, as reflected in the July Architecture Billings Index, which was published by the American Institute of Architects on Wednesday. The index came in at 51.9, down from a score of 54.2 in the previous month, but still reflecting an increase in design services.

“In addition to the balanced increases in design billings across all major regions and construction sectors, the strong gains in new project work coming into architecture firms points to future growth in design and construction activity over coming quarters,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement.

The index is a leading economic indicator of commercial and residential construction activity, reflecting the nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The index usually predicts U.S. construction spending growth, though not always in certain real estate sectors, such as for retail projects.

AIA’s survey asks participants whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same for the month, compared to the month before. The organization then tabulates the results. The index centers around 50, with tallies above 50 pointing to an increase in billings, while tallies below 50 mean a decline.