The ASID Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI) for July indicates that billings by interior design firms slipped 2.9 points to a score of 53.0 in July. Despite the softer reading, business conditions remained favorable and the overall expansionary trend of the past seven months continued in July. Scores above 50 indicate industry expansion, while scores below 50 suggest contraction. On a three-month moving average, the IDBI has recorded positive scores since fall 2011.
The business inquiries index, which tracks potential work, moved up slightly from a score of 58.2 in June to a score of 58.9 in July. Expectations concerning the future showed positive signs as well with the six-month outlook index increasing from a score of 56.4 in June to a score of 60.7 in July.
While second quarter U.S. economic growth was well below expectations, the underlying fundamentals of the economy are not as negative. Final sales, a key measure of the domestic economy, were up solidly. A strong 255,000 net new jobs were added to the economy in July adding to the 292,000 net new jobs recorded in June. Consumer income growth has accelerated gradually and erratically, and fuel spending is expected to keep the economy on an expansionary path.
Preliminary consumer sentiment readings in mid-August as measured by the University of Michigan edged upward 0.4 points from the final July release, suggesting that American consumers are comfortable with their overall economic situation, a sentiment strongly supported by the resilient labor market. The Dodge Momentum Index rose 0.5 percent in July from an upwardly revised June reading, indicating broad-based gains for commercial and institutional sectors.
Overall, the current ASID readings and related indicators signal steady, improving business conditions for interior design firms.