US practices report first growth in demand since 2008
The American Institute of Architects billings index, a survey that assesses the health of the profession in the US, has reported positive growth for the first time since January 2008.
The index, known as the ABI, measures the architectural billings of AIA member practices with a score of 50 or above representing a month-on-month growth in demand for design services.
Scores have been steadily climbing over the last four months after a knock-back earlier this year, but September’s ABI was the first to pass the 50 mark, at 50.1, since January 2008.
The recovery is being led by activity in the commercial and industrial industries, where the average ABI score reaches 56.3. Regionally the most active areas are the North-east with a score of 56.7 and Mid-west with 51, with the South and West still trailing well below 50.
The index for new project inquiries also rose sharply, from 54.6 to 62.3, its highest score since July 2007.
AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said: “This is certainly encouraging news, but we will need to see consistent improvement over the next few months in order to feel comfortable about the state of the design and construction industry.
“While there has been increasing demand for design services, it is happening at a slow rate and there continue to be other obstacles that are preventing a more accelerated recovery. Still, the strong upturn in design activity in the commercial and industrial sector certainly suggests that this upturn can possibly be sustained.”
The ABI is seen as an indicator of the future health of the wider constructions industry with a nine to 12 month lag between architectural billings and construction spending.