For the first time since the summer of 2012, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) posted consecutive months of a decline in demand for design services.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the September ABI score was 48.4, down from the mark of 49.7 in the previous month. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.4, down from a reading of 61.8 the previous month.

“This recent backslide should act as a warning signal,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “But this drop-off in demand could be continued hesitancy in the marketplace to move forward on projects until the presidential election is decided. The fact that new work coming into architecture continues to slowly increase suggests that billings will resume their growth in the coming months.”

The AIA reports these key ABI highlights for the month of September:

  • Regional averages: South (53.4), Midwest (50.1), West (49.5), Northeast (44.0)
  • Sector index breakdown:commercial/industrial (50.4), mixed practice (49.8), institutional (49.0), multi-family residential (48.8)
  • Project inquiries index: 59.4
  • Design contracts index: 51.4