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Architecture Loses Steam in April
Greig O'Brien / ARCHITECT / May 22, 2013
The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index shows contraction and signs of weakness in the design and construction industry.
In April, the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index marked the first negative month of growth in the demand for architectural design services in nine months. With a national score of 48.6, down more than three full points from March’s score of 51.9, the architecture industry is seeing the first significant soft patch, spanning across all regions and industry sectors, in nearly a year. (A score above 50.0 in the index means that demand is increasing; below 50.0 means that demand is contracting.)
The score for project inquiries came in at 59.5, down from 60.1 in March. This means that inquiries are still growing, but it did break a streak of three straight months where the index for project inquiries not only continued to grow, but stayed above 60.
For April, the ABI’s data departs a little from the trends seen from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment reports. The BLS reported 165,000 jobs added to the economy in April, which was slightly better than expected, with the architectural and engineering services sector of the economy adding 2,700 jobs in April. This bested the 2,100 architectural and engineering services jobs added in March, and I opined at the time that this would probably add a slight uptick in the ABI for April. (The ABI is released two weeks after the national employment report each month.) Before March, the industry had seen average growth of slightly more than 2,000 jobs per month.