The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), released by the AIA today, indicates that July was another strong month for the design industry. July’s ABI score was 54.7, down a point from June, which received the highest mark in nearly eight years. The project inquiries index increased from 63.4 in June to 63.7 last month, continuing a trend of incremental gains. Additionally, the design contracts index rose two points from June to July, coming in at 54.5 in today’s report. Scores above 50 indicate growth in billings, whereas those below 50 mean a contraction.

“On top of what has been a flurry of design activity in recent months, some architects are reporting a break in the logjam created by clients placing projects on hold for indefinite periods, which bodes well for business conditions in the months ahead,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “There is some uneasiness in the design community that rapid growth in construction costs could escalate beyond development capital and municipal budgets, which could trigger some contraction in the marketplace down the road.”

Here are the national, regional, and sector breakdowns for the July ABI report.

National Highlights

National Billings: In its third consecutive month in positive territory, the index came in at 54.7 for July, down one point from the previous month.
Project Inquiries: Up slightly from June, the project inquiries index was 63.7 in July.
Design Contracts: This index rose two points from June (52.5) to July (54.5).

Regional Highlights

Northeast: After nearly a year of consistent monthly contractions, the region is starting to rebound with its second straight month of growth, coming in at 53.5 for July.
Midwest: In July, the Midwest reported a score of 58.2, the highest value of all the regions that the ABI tracks.
South: The region that has stayed above the 50-mark line for more than three years continued that trend in July, coming in at 55.7, slightly above June’s 55.1.
West: In positive territory since March, the West rose to 53.8 in July from 51.2 in June.

Sector Highlights

Multifamily Residential: The only index in today’s report to contract, the multifamily residential sector posted a July value of 49.8, up from 48.1 a month earlier.
Commercial/Industrial: The commercial sector received a score of 53.4, a jump from the previous month’s mark of 52.2.
Institutional: The institutional project category saw the greatest demand for design services in July with an index score of 57.3, down slightly from the previous month’s value of 58.
Mixed Practice: Marking its fourth consecutive month of growth, the mixed-practice sector rose to 56.8 in July from 55.3 in June.

Source: AIA Architecture Billings Index