The monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at a score of 53.7 in August, up 1.8 points from July’s score of 51.9, the AIA announced today. Though billings eased slightly in July, August’s 1.8 gain was expected following July’s uptick in new project inquiries.

The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S., and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, and regionally, as well as by project type. A score above 50, as seen every month since February, represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.