Industry Outlook

ABI Grows Stronger in May

Architecture firm billings grew in May, marking the eighth consecutive month of solid growth, according to a report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Overall, the AlA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for May was 52.8 (any score over 50 is billings growth), which shows that demand for services from architecture firms continues to be healthy. The ABI also indicated that business conditions remain strong at firms located in the South and West, while growth in billings was modest at firms in the Northeast and Midwest.

The Dodge Momentum Index grew 0.8 percent in June to 165.5 (the year 2000=100) from the revised May reading of 164.2. 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 non-residential buildings by a full year.

In June. the commercial component moved 1.1~percent higher, while the institutional component eked out a 0.3-percent gain.

At the same time. the gains during the most recent two months were consider- ably smaller than October through April.

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $783.6 billion, new construction starts in May advanced 15 percent from April, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase follows a 12-percent decline in April, and shows total construction activity reaching the highest level reported over the past eight months.

According to the report, the lift in May came from substantial gains for nonbuilding construction, up 39 percent; and nonresidential building, up 18 percent.

Nonresidential building was $248.6 billion (annual rate), climbing 18 percent after a 12-percent decline in April. The institutional categories as a group increased 40 percent.

The commercial categories as a group rose 7 percent in May, im- proving for the second month in a row.

Through the first five months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $299.9 billion, down 3 percent from the same period a year ago. On a 12- month moving total basis, total construction starts for the 12 months ending May 2018 were up 1 percent from the amount re ported for the 12 months ending May 2017.

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