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Architecture Billing Index Shines in May

By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

ABIMay2013The sun is shining, but the forecast is still partly cloudy when it comes to work on boards for members of the American Institute of Architects. The AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index rebounded strongly in May after a dip into negative territory during April 2013.

The index rebounded to 52.9 from the April metric of 48.6. Readings over 50.0 indicate upward movement in billings. The April slump was the first in the ten previous months. May’s rebound is considered quite healthy. The new project inquiry index rose slightly from April’s 58.5 to 59.1 in May.

AIA’s chief economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, said that hopes are the April drop was a blip rather than a trend. “There is a resounding sense of uncertainty in the marketplace,” he adds. “From clients to investors, an overall lack of confidence in the general economy is continuing to act as a governor on the business development engine for architecture firms.”

West Shows Gains, Northeast Marks Major Rise

Across the regions, the Northeast skyrocketed from 48.2 in April to a region-topping 53.7 in May. In the west, the ABI moved from the prior month’s anemic 50.7 to 52.1 in May. The Midwest is still lagging with a 47.5 showing for May, down from its 49.4 in April. The South swapped scores with the Southwest. It posted a 52.6 reading in April, but a barely positive 50.9 in May.

In the billing sectors, multifamily residential design still carried the biggest index increase at 52.8, up from April’s 52.0. Institutional project billings increased its index to 52.2 from a neutral 50.1 in April. Mixed practice moved into positive territory with a May index of 51.0, up from April’s disappointing 48.6. Commercial/industrial billings, however, continue to lag reading 47.5 in May, down from a near-neutral 49.2 in April.

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