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Architecture Firm Billings Remain Flat

Billings at architecture firms remained flat in July, with an AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index score of 50.0 for the month. A score of 50.0 means that the share of firms that reported a decline in their billings in July is equal to the share of firms that reported an increase in their billings for the month. Inquiries into new projects continued to grow but at a slightly slower pace than in the last two months. However, the value of newly signed design contracts was flat in July, which means that firms saw fewer clients committing to projects than they had in the previous two months.
    
While billings were flat nationally, firms located in the Midwest continued to report improving business conditions in July, marking the ninth consecutive month of growth for firms located in the region. Firms located in all other regions of the country saw modest declines in billings, most notably at firms located in the South, which had previously seen three months of growth. Business conditions also improved at firms with both commercial/industrial and institutional specializations in July, with firms with a commercial/industrial specialization reporting their strongest billings in more than a year. Billings remained very soft at firms with a multifamily residential specialization, where it has now been a year since they last reported growth.
    
In the broader national economy, conditions remained generally positive in July. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to its highest score in two years, buoyed by consumer perceptions of more plentiful jobs and lower inflation. Consumers also reported increasingly optimistic expectations for the next six months, despite the fact that many still expect a recession. Construction employment continued to strengthen, with a net total of 19,000 new jobs added. And architectural services employment continued to grow as well, with an additional 1,100 new positions added in June (the most current data available). Through the first six months of the year, the industry has added a total of 3,600 new positions.

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