Industry Outlook

Architecture Firm Billings Rebound in August

Architecture firm billings rebounded solidly in August, posting their 11th consecutive month of growth, according to a report released from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AlA’s Architecture Billings index (ABI) score for August was 54.2, compared to 50.7 in July (any score over 50 represents billings growth). Most of the growth continues to come from the South and the multi-family residential sector.

Dodge Momentum Index Falters in August

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 2.9 percent in August to 164.1 (the year 2000=100) from the revised July reading of 169.0. The momentum index is a monthly measure of the first report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.

Pushing the momentum index lower in August was its commercial component, which dropped 6.1 percent from July.

The value of new construction starts in August decreased 9 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $741.9 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The August downturn for total construction starts matched the 9-percent decline reported for July, as activity in the latest two months pulled back after the sharp increases in May (up 14 percent) and June (up 10 percent).

By major sector, weaker activity was reported in August for nonresidential building, down 19 percent; and residential building, down 7 percent. On the plus side, nonbuilding construction in August advanced 6 percent. During the first eight months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $540.0 billion, up 1 percent from a year ago. The year-to-date performance for total construction was restrained by a 45-percent drop for the electric utility/gas plant category. If the electric utility/gas plant category is excluded, total construction starts in this year’s first eight months would be up 4 percent compared to the same period of 2017.

Nonresidential building in August fell 19 percent to $255.2 billion (annual rate), which followed a 22-percent decline in July.

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