Economy Watch: Architecture Billings Start Summer Off Strong

June marks the fifth consecutive month of design revenue growth for architecture firms, according to the American Institute of Architects' latest Architecture Billings index.

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

After beginning 2017 with a small drop, the Architecture Billings Index has posted five consecutive months of growth in design revenue at architecture firms, including June, according to the American Institute of Architects, which published the index on Wednesday. In June, the index came in at 54.2, up from a score of 53.0 in May, both representing an increase in design services.

The new projects inquiry index was 58.6, down from a reading of 62.4 the previous month, the AIA also said. The new design contracts index decreased from 54.8 to 53.7. Though down, those scores also represent growth for the month.

As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the index reflects the nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. Since the end of the recession, the index has usually predicted U.S. construction spending growth, though not always in certain real estate sectors, such as for retail projects.

Survey participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended, compared to the month before. The AIA then tabulates the results. The index centers around 50, with scores above 50 pointing to an increase in billings, while scores below 50 indicate a decline.