In June, the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index saw a continuation of what we reported in May—a return to growth in the demand for architectural design services. April had seen the first dip into negative territory for the index in nine months, which now seems for certain to be an outlier. With a national score of 51.6, down from May’s 52.9, June’s overall rate of growth did cool off a little, but the industry is still on the rise. (A score above 50.0 in the index means that demand is increasing; below 50.0 means that demand is contracting.)
But the slight softening of the national score was the only (minor) letdown in June. Every other yardstick in the index improved. All of the scores for the nation’s regions and the industry’s sectors saw a higher score in June. The Midwest region came in under 50 for the third straight month, but it did move a little closer to growth territory. All other regions and all four of the industry’s sectors came in above 50—for the ninth straight month.
The score for project inquiries came in at 62.6, up from May’s 59.1, and it was the first time since March that the inquiries score topped 60. In fact, four of the six months of 2013 have seen the project inquiries index coming in above 60, a good sign for future billings.
The ABI’s data also continues to track well with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recent employment report. The BLS reported 195,000 jobs added to the economy in June, with the architectural and engineering services sector of the economy adding another 3,000 jobs. Steady monthly growth in billings are marching in step with a steady increase in jobs.
National: At 51.6, the national billings score is down from 52.9. Except for a brief aberration in April, this overall index score has come in above 50 for 10 of the last 11 months, the best run since the financial crisis.
Inquiries: At 62.6, up from 59.1, the inquiries score returns to its plus-60 ways for the fourth month in the last six.
Northeast: At 55.6, up from 52.7, this is the 10th straight month above 10.
Midwest: At 48.3, up from 47.8, this is the third straight month under 50. And this is the only region or sector showing contraction.
South: At 54.8, up from 53.3, this is the 12th straight month above 50.
West: At 51.2, up from 51.0, this is the 11th straight month above 50.
Multifamily Residential: At 54.0, up from 53.2, this sector continues to be the steady powerhouse of the industry since the economy came out of recession. This is the 14th straight month above 50 and the 28th of the last 33 months above 50.
Commercial: At 54.7, up from 51.0, this is the ninth straight month above 50.
Institutional: At 51.8, up from 51.4, this is the 11th straight month above 50.
Mixed Practice: At 52.4, up from 51.0, this is the 10th straight month above 50.