AIA: “Architecture billings continue to increase” in August

Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment.

From the AIA: Architecture billings continue to increase

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) recorded its seventh consecutive positive month, according to a new report today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The ABI score for August was 55.6, up from July’s score of 54.6. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings from the prior month. During August, scoring for both the new project inquiries and design contracts moderated slightly but remained in positive territory, posting scores of 64.7 and 56.6 respectively.

“The surge in design activity continued in August, signifying an expected upturn in construction activity in the fourth quarter and continuing into 2022,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “This expected expansion will magnify the already serious problems of price inflation and availability of many construction products and materials, as well as the emerging labor shortages in the industry.”

• Regional averages: West (57.2); Midwest (55.2); South (52.5); Northeast (51.7)

• Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (56.0); commercial/industrial (54.7); institutional (54.4); multi-family residential (54.3)
emphasis added

AIA Architecture Billing Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 55.6 in August, up from 54.6 in July. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects’ services.

Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions.

This index had been below 50 for eleven consecutive months, but has been solidly positive for the last seven months.  

The eleven months of decline represented a significant decrease in design services, and suggests a decline in CRE investment through most of 2021 (This index usually leads CRE investment by 9 to 12 months), however we might see a pickup in CRE investment towards the end of the 2021 and into 2022.

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