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Electrical Marketing's Leading Economic Indicators - August 24, 2023 Update

Aug. 24, 2023

July building permits tumble -13% YOY

Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,442,000, +0.1% above the revised June rate of 1,441,000, but -13%. below the July 2022 rate of 1,658,000. Single‐family authorizations in July were at a rate of 930,000; +0.6% above the revised June figure of 924,000.

AIA architects report steady business climate in July

The American Institute of Architects (AIA)/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) results for July signaled mostly stable business conditions. The ABI score was 50 points, indicating that billings at architecture firms remained flat for the month.

 “This is the third straight month that billings at architecture firms have stabilized,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in the press release. “New project work has been even stronger over this period. This suggests that design work may finally begin to increase over the coming months, although somewhat modestly.”

 Firms with a commercial/industrial specialization reported their strongest billings growth in more than a year, while firms with a multi-family residential specialization continued to report declining billings.

Conference Board's leading indicator for U.S. economy continues to decline

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. declined by -0.4% in July 2023 to 105.8 points (2016=100), following a decline of -0.7% in June. The LEI is down -4% over the six-month period between January and July 2023 — a slight deterioration from its -3.7% contraction over the previous six months (July 2022 to January 2023).

“The U.S. LEI fell for the sixteenth consecutive month in July, signaling the outlook remains highly uncertain” said Justyna Zabinska-La Monica, senior manager, Business Cycle Indicators, at The Conference Board, in the press release.

“The leading index continues to suggest that economic activity is likely to decelerate and descend into mild contraction in the months ahead. The Conference Board now forecasts a short and shallow recession in the Q4 2023 to Q1 2024 timespan.”