The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), released by the AIA today, indicates that August saw a drop in demand for design services. The August ABI score was 49.1, down from a mark of 54.7 in July. The project inquiries index also experienced a decline, dropping from 63.7 in July to 61.8 in August. Meanwhile, the design contracts index, another nation-wide measurement, saw a slight boost, rising from 54.5 in July to 55.3 in August. Scores above 50 indicate growth in billings, whereas those below 50 mean a contraction.

“Over the past several years, a period of sustained growth in billings has been followed by a temporary step backwards,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, said in a press release. “The fact that project inquiries and new design contracts continue to grow at a healthy pace suggests that this should not be a cause for concern throughout the design and construction industry.”

Here are the national, regional, and sector breakdowns for the August ABI report.

National Highlights

National Billings:
 Down from 54.7 in July to 49.1 in August, the index experienced its third contraction this year.
Project Inquiries: This index indicates a drop in demand by about two points from July (63.7) to August (61.8).
Design Contracts: The design contracts index was 55.3, up  from a reading of 54.5 the previous month.

Regional Highlights

The only region in this report to contract, the North's index fell from 48.9 in July to 46.8 in August.
Midwest: The Midwest received the highest regional score for the third straight month. August's mark of 56.1 is only slightly below that of July (56.6).
South: The region that has stayed above the 50-mark line for more than three years continued that trend in August, coming in at 53.8, just below July's 54.5.
West: In positive territory since March, the West slid from 51.9 in July to 50.2 in August.

Sector Highlights

Multifamily Residential: 
Coming in below the 50 mark since February, the sector stayed in negative territory with an August score of 49.5, marginally above July's 49.4.
Commercial/Industrial: The commercial sector also contracted, with an August mark of 49.7, slightly below July's 50.9.
Institutional: The institutional project category saw the greatest demand for design services in August, with an index score of 53.7, down from 55.3 in July.
Mixed Practice: In its fifth-consecutive month in positive territory, the sector received an August score of 52.8, a decline from July's mark of 54.2.

Source: AIA Architecture Billings Index