Architecture billings increased again in May, marking the eighth consecutive month of growth. The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score in May rose to 52.8, just above April’s score of 52.0. The latest report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) shows that demand for design activity has been steadily growing over the past several months. The last time there was a decline in billings was back in September 2017.
For the ABI, any score over 50 indicates an increase in billings, while scores below 50 indicate a decrease. The ABI is a leading indicator of future construction activity with construction spending following architectural billings by approximately nine months to a year.
May was a strong month for the new project inquiry index and the new design contracts index. The new projects inquiry index for May was 59.3, a nice increase over April’s score of 56.7. The new design contracts increased over three points in May, going from a 50.1 in April to 53.3 in the latest report. These are strong indicators that billings will remain strong for the foreseeable future.
All regions reported strong billings in May’s ABI report. The South took the top spot in May with a 55.0, marking a nice jump from the 51.8 in April. The West dropped from 55.1 in April to 51.9. The Midwest climbed just above the 50-mark with a 50.2 in May, after falling to 49.6 the previous month. The Northeast continues to see incremental improvement each month. The region had a score of 50.6, following a 50.3 in April.
With the exception of Mixed Practice, all sectors had strong scores in May. Institutional had the best score in May with a 54.3 following a score of 52.0 in April. Commercial/Industrial increased from 52.7 during the previous month to 53.6 in May. Multi-Family Residential also had a decent increase in May to 52.1 over a 50.7 in April. Mixed Practice dropped below 50 in May, going from a 50.6 to a 47.9. This was the only sector to see a decline in billings for the month.