Industry Outlook

Architecture Firm Billings Strengthen in April

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports that architecture firm billings rose for the seventh consecutive month, with the pace of growth in April increasing modestly from March.

Overall, the AlA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for April was 52.0 (any score over 50 is billings growth), which indicates the business environment continues to be healthy for architecture firms despite continued labor shortages, growing inflation in building materials costs and rising interest rates. The ABI also revealed that business conditions remained strong at firms located in the West, while billings softened slightly at Midwest firms.

The Dodge Momentum Index eked out a small gain in May, moving 1.8-percent higher to 167.8 (the year 2000=100) from the revised April reading of 164.9. The momentum index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning. May’s gain was the result of a 4.7-percent increase by the commercial component of the momentum index, while the institutional component fell 2.4 percent. The momentum index has posted solid gains through the first five months of 2018, rising 19 percent from the same period of 2017.

The value of new construction starts in April fell 13 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $674.3 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The decline follows the 11-percent gain reported for March, which was the highest level of construction starts over the preceding six months.

Nonresidential building retreated 12 percent to $211.5 billion (annual rate) due to a slower pace by its institutional and manufacturing segments.

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