AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index for October came in at a score of 52, which is a 2.3-point increase from September's contraction. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S. and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, regionally, and by project type. A score above 50 represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.
“Although ongoing uncertainty over the direction of economic growth persists, a strong stock market and growing payrolls at U.S. businesses continue to generate more construction projects,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “With most regional and sector billing scores at architecture firms improving from the previous month, we’re seeing a bit of a rebound from disappointing levels of design activity in recent months.” However, in October, design contracts posted a score of 52.9, a 1.6-point decrease from September's score of 54.5.
The scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—rose in three of four regions in October. Billings in the West remaining unchanged at 51.3 while billings in the South rose 3.2 points to a score of 55.5. Though the Midwest and Northeast both continue to experience contractions, billings in each region rose by 4.6 and 0.9 points, respectively, to scores of 49.9 and 47.2.
Billings scores rose in all four individual industry sectors, but two remained below the threshold of 50. The commercial/industrial sector and the institutional sector increased by 4 and 1.4 points, respectively, to scores of 49.3 and 49.9. The multifamily residential score rose by 0.8 points to a score of 54. The mixed practice sector rose by 2.2 points to 55.2. (Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.)