After gaining momentum in the fall, the latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI) released by the AIA today reflects a drop in market demand for design services. November's ABI score is 49.3, down from a score of 53.7 in September and 53.1 in October. Scores above 50 indicate growth in billings, whereas those below 50 reflect a contraction. The November value marks the fourth monthly contraction this year.
"Since architecture firms continue to report that they are bringing in new projects, this volatility in billings doesn’t seem to reflect any underlying weakness in the construction sector," AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, said in a press release. "Rather, it could reflect the uncertainty of moving ahead with projects given the continued tightness in construction financing and the growing labor shortage problem gripping the entire design and construction industries."

Below are the national, regional, and sector breakdowns for the November ABI report.

National Highlights

National Billings: At 49.3, this nationwide measurement dipped into negative territory for the fourth time this year.
Project Inquiries: This index experienced a marginal increase from October (58.5) to November (58.6) and has remained in positive territory for nearly seven years.
Design Contracts: This index rose nearly two points between October (51.7) and November (53.5).

Regional Highlights

Northeast: The region’s business conditions continue a five-month streak of contracting figures. The November value of 46.2 is down from 46.7 in October.
Midwest: The region received its first contracting figure since March. November's score of 47.8 is a decline from October's score of 50.2.
South: The South received the highest regional score in today’s report for the second consecutive month. November's value of 55.4 is down slightly from October's figure of 55.9.
West: In positive territory since March, the West also experienced a marginal decline. Its score was 54.5, down from October's value of 54.7.

Sector Highlights

Multifamily Residential: November's value is 53.8, up from October's figure of 52.7, marking the third straight month of growth.
Commercial/Industrial: This sector's index fell from 52.6 in October to 51.0 in November.
Institutional: Demand in this sector increased slightly from 51.8 in October to 52.0 in November.
Mixed Practice: The mixed practice category was the only sector to contracti this month. November's value of 47.6 is a decline from October's score of 50.4.

Source: AIA Architecture Billings Index