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Electrical Marketing's Leading Economic Indicators

Oct. 25, 2019
Some of the key indicators are starting to point to a slowdown in the construction and industrial markets.

Monthly building permit data sags in September, but YOY data still strong. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,387,000, -2.7% below  the revised August rate of 1,425,000, but +7.7% above the September 2018 rate of 1,288,000.  The U.S. Census Bureau said single-family authorizations in September were at a rate of 882,000, +0.8% above the revised Aug. 2019 figure of 875,000.


Purchasing Managers Index slumps in September. Back-to-back declines in the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) drew renewed attention to this closely watched indicator in the industrial market. The September PMI registered 47.8%, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points from the August reading of 49.1%. Any reading below 50 points indicates a softening industrial purchasing environment. 
Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said in the press release, “Comments from the panel reflect a continuing decrease in business confidence. September was the second consecutive month of PMI contraction, at a faster rate compared to August.”


AIA’s  Architecture Billings Index improves in September but still points to a sluggish design climate. While architecture billings moderated in September, design activity shows signs of remaining sluggish at U.S. architecture firms, according to a new report released from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, DC. The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score in September is 49.7 points a 2.5-point improvement from the August score of 47.2 points. However, any score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings. During September, both the new project inquiries and design contracts scores were positive, posting scores of 59 points and 54.4 points respectively.  
“Though still in negative territory, the moderating billings score along with the rebound in design contracts and inquiries serve as a continued note of caution for the industry,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Continued weakness in the larger economy still doesn’t bode well for future design services, which will likely see continued volatility in the months ahead.”