August 18 In another sign that the U.S. economy has slowed markedly in the last quarter, architectural billings as measured by a monthly survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) fell for a fifth consecutive month in July, AIA reported.
The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) declined by more than one point last month, falling to 45.1 from 46.3 in June. It was the steepest decline in billing since February 2010.
The Index lost more than a point in June, as well. It has fallen more than five points since February, most of the decline occuring in the last three months.
The ABI is considered a 9- to 12-month leading indicator of construction activity. Any score over 50 indicates an increase in billing activity. Scores under 50 indicate a decline.
“Business conditions for architecture firms have turned down sharply,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker. “Late last year and in the first couple of months of this year there was a sense that we were slowly pulling out of the downturn, but now the concern is that we haven’t yet reached the bottom of the cycle. Current high levels of uncertainly in the economy don’t point to an immediate turnaround.”