“This is the third consecutive month that invoices have been flat at architecture firms,” Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist, said in a press release. “Work on the new project has been stronger during this period. This suggests that design work may finally start to ramp up over the coming months, although it is rather modest.
The number of new design contracts also remained flat, the AIA noted in its report, with a score of 50.0, indicating that companies reported fewer clients committing to new projects than in previous months.
In addition to reporting the national score, the AIA also breaks down the bills by region and construction sector. As has been the case for the past few months, the Midwest continues to post the strongest growth, with a score of 51.6 making it the only region in the country to score above 50. The Billings Index scores for the other regions were the West (49.6) and the Northeast (49.3). and the South (48.9).
As for the majors, Commerce/Industrial once again came out on top with “the strongest billing growth in over a year” at 52.7. In previous reports, it was clear that the specialty that continues to suffer the most – in the sense of persistent reporting of declines in bills – is the multi-family residential specialty.
Each month, the AIA supplements the report with a survey question that is posed to participating companies. For the month of July, the professional organization asked architects to submit a report on current staffing levels in their firms. 53% of the companies said that their companies “have an adequate number of employees”, while 40% said that their companies “suffer from a shortage of employees”, while 7% of the respondents reported an increase in the number of employees.
On top of the stable conditions reported by the AIA and the architecture industry, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, a broad economic indicator of business conditions and potential developments for the foreseeable future, hit a two-year high in July. This is a welcome and optimistic outlook given the state of the economy in the past few years.