The AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at a score of 50.7 in July, marking the 10th consecutive month of gains. 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, as seen this month, represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.

July's score is 0.6 points lower than June's reading of 51.3, indicating that the industry is still growing, but at a slower pace.

“Billings at architecture firms in the South remained robust in July, offsetting declining billings in other regions of the country,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “Despite the dip in the overall ABI number in July, firms are still reporting a healthy increase in new projects.”

In July, design contracts posted a score of 53.8—a 0.3-point decrease from June's score of 54.1. Design contracts continue to come in above the 50-point threshold—as they have every month over the past year—a sign that momentum is strong, despite small month-to-month fluctuations.

The scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as a three-month moving average—decreased in three regions last month. The billings score for the West rose for the first time in four months to a score of 49.6. Demand for design services in the Northeast fell by 2.2 points to a score of 48, marking a new contraction in that segment of the market, while demand for design services fell by 0.5 points to a score of 49.3 in the Midwest. The South remained the lone bright spot with a reading of 55.2, although this number is 2.2 points lower than last month.

The individual industry sectors fared somewhat better in July. Although three of the four sectors posted dips in their billings scores, all sectors except mixed-use reported scores above 50. The multifamily residential score remained unchanged at 54.6. The institutional sector fell 0.5 points to 51.1, and the commercial/industrial sector's score fell by 3.3 points to a score of 50.1. The mixed-use sector continued to see a contraction in demand for design services, falling by 1.1 points to a score of 48.2 last month. (Results of sectors are also calculated as a three-month moving average.)