Economy Watch: Architects Report a Good Month in May

The American Institute of Architects' Architecture Billings Index posted its fourth consecutive month of growth, suggesting that both the architecture and construction sectors will remain healthy for the foreseeable future.

Kermit Baker, AIA
Kermit Baker, AIA

Demand for architectural services—which is predictive of the demand for construction services—was up again in May, according to the American Institute of Architects on Wednesday. The organization’s Architecture Billings Index recorded the fourth consecutive month of growth, coming in at 53.0, up from 50.9 in April.

This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 points to an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.4, up from a reading of 60.2 the previous month, while the new design contracts index increased from 53.2 to 54.8. All in all, May was a good month for architectural demand.

Healthy Future

The index is a leading indicator of commercial and residential property construction, reflecting a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The index is derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that’s sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased or stayed the same in the month that just ended, compared to the month before.

“The fact that the data surrounding both new project inquiries and design contracts have remained positive every month this year, while reaching their highest scores for the year, is a good indication that both the architecture and construction sectors will remain healthy for the foreseeable future,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement. “This growth hasn’t been an overnight escalation, but rather a steady, stable increase.”