AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index fell but remained strong in October, coming in at 54.3, which is 2.3 points below September’s ABI of 56.6. 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.
Design contracts and new project inquiries remained in positive territory with both scores expanding slightly in October. Design contracts came in 58.0, rising 3.3 points from the September score of 54.7; new project inquiries scored 62.9, rising 1.1 point from September’s score of 61.8. “Unlike the economywide payroll figures, architecture services employment has surpassed its pre-pandemic high,” said AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release from AIA. “Staffing continues to be a growing concern at architecture firms and may serve to limit their ability to take on new projects.”
The month-to-month changes in scores for regional billings—which, unlike the national score, are calculated as three-month moving averages—were mixed in October. Two of the four regional billing scores lost ground, with one dipping below 50.0. Billings in the Midwest increased 4.2 points to a score of 61.9, while billings in the West fell 2.6 points to a score of 53.4. Billings in the South increased 1.2 points to a score of 58.2, and billings in the Northeast decreased 2.9 points to a score of 48.6.
Sector billings scores remained in positive territory, although all four sectors scores fell from their September values. The commercial/industrial sector decreased 0.7 point to a score of 57.4; the institutional sector fell 2.1 points to a score of 51.4. The multifamily residential score decreased 0.3 point to a score of 55.8, and the mixed practice sector fell 0.1 point to a score of 58.7. Like the regional billings scores, sector billings scores are also calculated as three-month moving averages.