Design Activity in the Third Quarter Opens with a Bang

Firms see many reasons for declining licensure rates among younger staff
By Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA
AIA Chief Economist
(Published July 2014)

As of July, U.S. architecture firms have produced three straight months of accelerating gains in design billings. With a reading of 55.8 for the month (where any score above 50 signifies growth), the July reading reflects stronger gains in billings than any period since mid-2007. With solid monthly scores for new design contracts (at 54.9 this month) and new project inquiries (66.0), all signs indicate strong momentum building in design activity, which is expected to produce solids gains in construction later this year and into 2015.

Regional billings activity is also showing more consistent growth. Billings at firms in each of the major regions of the country were strong, with firms in the Northeast, Midwest, and West showing a reversal from declining billings as recently as two to three months ago. Firms in the South continue to report healthy business conditions, as they have every month for two straight years.

Another equally favorable sign is that all of the major building sectors are now reporting healthy gains in design activity. In particular, institutional firms reported healthy increases for July, with growth accelerating over June levels. Commercial/industrial firms have reported growth each month this year, while residential firms now have an almost three-year uninterrupted string of gains.

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