A new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports that demand for design services from U.S. architecture firms grew at an accelerated pace in August.

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for August 2022 increased to 53.3 from July’s score of 51.0, as firms report an increase in billings. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The AIA says that inquiries into new projects increased to 57.9 in August from 56.1 in July, while the value of new design contracts held steady at 52.3, down from 52.9 in July. Business conditions, however, remain mixed by region.

The Northeast experienced more decline in billings in August, as the region has declined for all but two months in 2022. The West witnessed more billings in August, but fewer firms reported billings growth than they have in several months. Growth has slowed in the Midwest, and business conditions remain steady in the South, where they were the strongest overall for the second consecutive month.

“While a strengthening billings score is encouraging, the flat scoring across regions and sectors is indicative of a nationwide deceleration over the next several months,” says AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker. “A variety of economic storm clouds continue to gather, but since design activity continues to increase, we can expect at least another nine to 12-month runway before building construction activity is negatively affected.”

Most of the regional averages hovered above 50, with the Northeast remaining the only region to score under 50 with a score of 49.8. The South scored 52.9, the Midwest 51.4 and the West 50.8.

The sector index breakdown shows that firms of all specializations are still experiencing billings growth.

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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