US architectural activity shrinks again in May

20 June 2012 19:08  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Architectural activity contracted again in May, as a leading indicator for the sector fell by more than 5%, remaining in negative territory from April, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said on Wednesday.

The AIA’s May Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was 45.8, down from 48.4 in April. The February and March indices were 51.0 and 50.4, respectively.

Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings for design services.

“For the second year in a row, we’re seeing declines in springtime design activity after a healthy first quarter,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said. “Given the ongoing uncertainty in the economic outlook, particularly weak job-growth numbers in recent months, this should be an alarm bell going off for the design and construction industry.”

The ABI results reflect a lag of 9-12 months between architecture billings and construction spending, according to the AIA.

The new-project inquiries index saw the smallest percentage decline, dropping to 54.0 for May from 54.4 in April.

All of the construction sectors diminished in the May surveys of AIA member-owned firms, but only the commercial/industrial sector remained above 50, despite its sharp decline to 50.7 in May from 53.8 in April.

The AIA survey showed weaker May results in all regions, with declines ranging from less than 1% in the west to nearly 7% in the midwest.

Every $1,000 (€790) spent on non-residential construction generates $160-230 worth of consumable chemicals and derivatives, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

($1 = €0.79)

By: Larry Terry
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