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Architecture Billings Are Down, But You Shouldn't Worry

National Economy

A leading economic indicator of construction activity dropped in November, but likely doesn't mean a softening in the industry.

The American Institute of Architects reported that November’s Architecture Billings Index score was 49.3, down from October’s mark of 53.1. The ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending; scores above 50 indicate an increase in billings, while a score below 50 reflects a decrease in design services.

AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker says architecture firms are still reporting bringing in new projects, so he believes the volatility in billings doesn’t reflect any underlying weakness in the construction sector. "Rather, it could reflect the uncertainty of moving ahead with projects given the continued tightness in construction financing and the growing labor shortage problem gripping the entire design and construction industries," he says.

November’s report points to continued strength in the South and West regions, which registered scores of 55.4 and 54.5, respectively. The Midwest and East helped to push the ABI below 50 for the month, with the Midwest registering a score of 47.8 and the East coming in at 46.2. Multifamily residential topped the sector index breakdown with a mark of 53.8.